Business News of 2014-07-10

Food crisis could hit Ghana soon – Prez of Peasant farmers

The President of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana Mohammed Adam Nashiru has painted a rather grim picture of the state of Ghana's agriculture and has hinted of a potential food crisis next year.

"This year 2014-15, the high cost of inputs is making it impossible for individual farmers to cover 100 per cent of what they did last year. So some are doing 35 per cent or half of the fields they grew last year. We have erratic weather pattern that is not very good for us. Market access is a problem, roads leading to our farms are not the best. We don't have storage facilities in our production areas.

"...We foresee that come next year by this time we are going to have food crisis. As we speak now a bag of maize is almost 100 cedis. Other crops are also increasing," stated.

Mohammed Adam Nashiru was speaking at a two-day workshop in Shama in the Western Region to build the capacity of farmers in agricultural governance and budget processes in Ghana.

The Workshop organised by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) was also to enlighten farmers on the processes to adopt in their effort to seek policy space in the governance process; participate in decision making; and hold politicians at all levels accountable to the people.

Mr Nashiru said the workshop could not have been organised at a more opportune time given the challenges facing the agric sector in the country and Africa at large.

According to him, the farming population is going down because the youth no longer see agriculture as a lucrative business. Sadly he added, the adults who are already in the sector are also aging, making it difficult to produce more with dwindling number of farmers.

He said attempts at getting government to address some of the challenges facing farmers have proven futile.

"We have made a lot of recommendations in recent past to government in terms of our food security. We asked government to expand the national buffer stock to all districts... That has not been done,” he regretted.

Fertilizer subsidies are no more in place for farmers for this year. He alleged that “farmers have not been able to access fertiliser because government has failed to pay for the fertilisers they took last year and until they pay for it we are not getting anything. Until that is done we are not getting fertiliser subsidies.”

Despite the teething challenges, he said the farmers would do their best under the circumstances.

"Our appeal is to support us to get what we need from government to produce food. That is our interest. We are not calling for Single Spine; we are not calling for increase in allowance; we are not saying buy us 4 wheel Land Cruisers. We are saying give us the tools to go into the bush bring food for Ghanaians to eat.

“At the end of the day if we are not able to do that, you know what will happen? As the saying goes, a hungry man is an angry man and this has led to the removal of governments in Egypt and in Tunisia and we don't want to see that happen but if the policy makers relax, this is what is going to happen,” he warned.

He said if government was able to send an amount of $3 million to the "failed footballers" in Brazil it must be able to raise money to subsidize fertilisers for farmers to produce enough food for all to eat.

The workshop was attended by a little over 25 participants, some of whom are farmers across the country, personnel from the Department of Agriculture at the Shama District and representatives of some Civil Society Organisations.

The former Chief Executive Officer of the National Identification Authority Dr William Ahadzie took participants through a rigorous training on how farmers can use the power of advocacy to influence agricultural policies in the country.

He also enlightened the farmers on the budget process in the country and other superior ways of raising money to fund their individual projects.

The Programme Officer at PFAG Charles Nyaaba, warned against the adoption of Genetically Modified Oganisms (GMOs).

He said there were clear negative repercussions of such a move and admonished smallholder farmers to resist any attempt to introduce GMOs in the country.

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