Business News Sun, 26 Nov 2017

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Peasant farmers raise concerns over 2018 budget

The Ghana Peasant Farmers Association [GPFA] had expressed some concerns pertaining to the 2018 budget read by the Finance Minister last week.

The Association even though lauded the 2017 performance of the Planting for Food and Jobs [PFJ] flagship project but expressed its reservations on why the 2018 budget failed to capture measures to address the challenges faced by the project.

Addressing newsmen in Accra on Tuesday, Mr. Charles Nyaaba, the Association’s Program Officer, mentioned that the budget was silent on challenges associated with the project’s implementation such as late procurement of seeds, weak infrastructure and monitoring, default in payment of suppliers amongst others.

With regards to seeds and fertilizers, Mr. Nyaaba further raised concern on the silence of the budget on the quantity of inputs to be provided next year for the targeted 500.000 farmers.

‘’we expect early negotiations with suppliers of subsidized fertilizers and seeds to forestall delays and make it possible for the inputs to be in stock in the regions and districts prior to the 2018 planting season’’.

Another major problem the Program Officer mentioned was fertilizer smuggling in 2017 which they expected the budget to touch on measures the government has put in place to curb that menace.

There were series of reports of smuggling of subsidized fertilizer to neighboring countries and we were hopeful that adequate measures and resources will be allocated for the monitoring of these inputs.

The GPFA also expressed its disappointment in government’s failure to create the necessary condition to build the capacity of local seed producers to enable them produce to meet the local demand rather than relying on imports.

Again the Peasant Farmers were worried on why there is no specific resources allocated to research scientist to come up with new innovations such as soil nutrients suitability tests, improved local seeds, discovery of pest and diseases control strategies as well as improved agronomic practices.

He applauded the intent by government to recruit 2,700 extension officers for the PFJ program but was quick to add that challenges associated with the provision of extension services have not been adequately dealt with.

He pointed out that there is no mention of logistics for the existing and new extension agents to make them work effectively, since a lot of them still complain about lack of resources.

‘’ We expect that both existing and additional staff recruited must be provided with the necessary logistics to be able to offer desired services, deliver results and recoveries of inputs’’.

This budget unlike previous budgets has not deviated from touching on strategies to deal with post-harvest losses and as such we were expecting to hear allocations made to address post-harvest losses, food contamination, standards and regulations on food quality.

Mr. Charles Nyaaba touched on the need to make provisions for Plant Protection Regulations and Service Directorate [PPRSD] to function effectively and perform monitoring and regulatory functions on quality and food standards.

With ambitious initiatives for the agricultural sector outlined in the 2018 budget statement and economic policy of the government, it is expected that the sector will from henceforth get adequate share of the total government of Ghana budget.

The PFAG called on relevant government agencies to conduct timely and regular assessment of implementation performance of interventions set out in the budget for the sector, whilst monitoring and evaluation of results of development interventions must be disseminated and communicated to the citizenry to ensure accountability, improve interventions and motivate stakeholders to action.

Source: The Accra Times

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