AGI lauds government efforts to transform Agro-industry
The Agribusiness Sector of the Association of Ghana Industries, AGI has lauded Government for steps being taken to support the Agro-industry especially with the Launching of the Ghana Commodity Exchange, which is expected to promote private sector investment in the agriculture sector and create market opportunities for farmers and stakeholders in the agribusiness.
In a press statement signed by the Chair of Agribusiness sector of the AGI Ms. Fatima Alimohamed, as the government seeks to implement the One District One Factory policy, it should focus on increasing productivity for commodities that Ghana has comparative advantage to check saying that attempt to import raw materials into the country may worsen the plight of the Cedi.
The Association(sector) recommends that government as a matter of urgency, establish a National Raw Material Council to address the age-long problem of shortage of local raw materials, especially during the lean production seasons.
AGI again revealed that in the budget read by the Minister of finance, Ghana spends over $2billion on food imports annually in instances given as Rice – 1 billion, Sugar – 320 million, Poultry – 374 million with emphasis on paragraph 169 of the budget speech, the finance minister read, spelling out that the Roadmap for the Agric Sector is to set up Tree Crop strategy (Tree Crops Development Authority).
“There is need to have a clear understanding of who manages the fund and how this fund will be operated and plowed back into the sector similarly to other countries where the fund is used to incentivize local processing which in turn will lead to further investors wanting to be a part of the processing part of the value chain.”
The AGI, therefore, is appealing to the government that credit given to the agribusiness sector be increased since the one given is very low. It, therefore, called on the government to provide special purpose vehicles that will target specific commodities for special funding. “Government should speed up the proposal to merge ADB and NIB to set up an Industrial (Development) Bank that will focus on agriculture to realize government’s industrialization efforts”.
The Minister for Finance for presenting the 2019 Budget Speech of the Government of Ghana dubbed a stronger economy for jobs and prosperity.
As the Agribusiness private sector, we consider and envisage our farmers as autonomous entrepreneurs and their organizations as farmers’ business organizations who have to operate and deal with a range of public and private sector players such as sourcing companies, banks, agro-input dealers and many others. This reinforces the role of the Agribusiness in being the backbone of our economy.
On Industrial Policy of Government
The AGI has stated the challenges that are bedeviling local raw materials in Ghana. According to the association, the lack of competitiveness in the price of farm produce and the inability of farmers to produce the right quantities and qualities the industry requires has turn has stifled market access for smallholder farmers.
“We need to collectively ensure that any levies that are being considered are discussed and go through a monitoring and regulatory body that comprises of both the Government and Private sector. The role would be to ensure that any raw materials levies or proposals do not go in favor of neighboring markets and hamper our market opportunities.” It says.
The government should focus on the massive commercialization of commodities that will provide the ready source of local raw materials for industrial processing. The country imports raw materials for an industry which can be readily produced locally to reduce the cost of doing business in Ghana.
A government must focus on the cultivation of commodities like cassava, yam, cashew, shea nut, oil palm, layers, piggery since these are intermediary goods that can be targeted for agro-processing.
The AGI says it is therefore willing and ready to support the government as it seeks to implement the agenda for job creation and Ghana Beyond Aid.
“As a leading voice in the Private Sector in Ghana, we will continue to strengthen the cooperation and provide constructive critiquing where necessary to support agro-industrialization in Ghana”, It concluded.