Gov’t must focus on strengthening implementation of agric programmes instead of reducing budget

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PFAG

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has appealed to the government not to reduce the budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector.

PFAGIt should rather focus on strengthening the implementation of all the 16 flagship programmes in agriculture.

The Association said it had no problem with government’s decision to review the flagship programmes but “the review should be on the mode of implementation and not on the budget allocation to the agricultural sector.

“More investment needs to be put into the agricultural sector at this critical moment. If government reduces the budget, it will affect the amount of support that goes to the small-holder farmers to be able to produce food.

“And when that happens, it will affect our food security in the ensuing year,” its leaders drawn from across the Upper East Region, said at a media engagement in Bolgatanga.

“We think that even if government is reviewing its programmes, the agricultural sector must not suffer. More capital should rather be pumped into the sector. We don’t think that cutting down on the agricultural budget will be a proper thing to do in this crisis moment.”

They complained about what they said was the high cost of agricultural inputs, especially government’s subsidized fertilizers, and called for reduction in prices to enable small-holder farmers to go into full production.

Madam Gilberta Akuka, the Chairperson for the PFAG in the Bawku West District, expressed discomfort with the fertilizer price hike.

She said the 25 kilograms (kg) of subsidized fertilizer, which sold at GH¢62.00, last year, was now selling at GH¢160.00.

According to her, women farmers in the rural communities were being hit hard as some of them are unable to afford the fertilizers for production and “once women are not able to buy the fertilizers to produce and support the men, production will be low”.

Mr Isaac Pabia, the Kassena-Nankana West District Chairman of the PFAG said even though the country was faced with economic challenges, it was critical for the government to pay attention to the agricultural sector.

“The cost of production is high, in the open market, fertilizer has no fixed price. It keeps changing every day, and in this crisis period, we should be thinking of investing more in the agricultural sector,” he added.

He recounted how in 2007, when there was a global economic crunch, the government at the time, led by former President Kufuor, realised that food security would be hit if nothing was done to remedy the situation and introduced the fertilizer subsidy, something which helped to ensure food security.”

By Godfred A. Polkuu,GNA

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