Business News of Sun, 24 Sep 20176

2018 budget to dwell on improving agric sector - Bawumia

Government has stated the commencement of a new plan in the 2018 budget to turnaround the fortunes of Ghana’s agricultural sector.

To be known as the ‘marshal plan for agriculture,’ the policy seeks to tackle all systemic challenges that have confronted Ghana’s agric sector hence inhibiting its contribution to the economy.

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia disclosed this when he opened a two day international conference on the Political Economy of Economic Transformation.

According to him, the 2018 budget and economic policy statement will dwell largely on improving Ghana’s agric sector.

Among the numerous interventions to boost the sector’s growth are tax cuts on selected agricultural inputs and the improvement of the welfare of the farmers.

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Dr. Bawumia believes the move will augment the government’s flagship planting for food and jobs program.

“Because we came in just at the beginning of the planting season…We are now preparing what we call the marshal plan for agriculture and from our point of view, the political economy of this is very clear and the economics of this makes very much sense and it will complement our planting for food and jobs program,” he stated.

The Vice President added, “The marshal plan for agriculture will ramp up the investments under the planting for food and jobs program; abolish duties on agricultural produce, processing equipment and machinery, support the development of agribusiness start-ups, de-risk and finance farming and agribusiness, open up food baskets in areas such as the Northern parts of Ghana and the Afram Plains through road construction and irrigation projects and give specific technical assistance and tax incentives to support agro-processing, packaging, market access.”

Agric’s contribution to Ghana’s GDP has been declining for some time now.

Some industry analysts have blamed the development on low investments.

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Even though the agric sector’s contribution to GDP increased appreciably for the first quarter of 2017, from 2.8 to 7.6 percent, the continuous decline over the years has been of much concern.

The sector witnessed a continuous decline of about 13 percent up until 2016 when it began recording some marginal increase.

The sector’s growth declined massively from about 32 to 19 percent as at September 2015.

But government is confident of the impact of the new plan which will largely improve the welfare of farmers.

“The marshal plan for agriculture will be the plan that finally will make agriculture very profitable and a major source of well paying jobs, lifting the majority of our people out of poverty…Increase in the base of mechanization as well as the launch of a major pension scheme for cocoa farmers,” Dr. Bawumia remarked.

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