Ghana government and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) have injected $1.13 million to boost the agric sector.
The funding is meant for the implementation of a six-year pro-poor programme dubbed the Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme (GASIP).
With Roy Ayariga as the national Coordinator, GASIP is intended to promote and upscale the nation’s agricultural value chains.
Minister for Food and Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna officially launched the GASIP in Tamale where explained the rationale for GASIP saying, “GASIP is a game changer.
GASIP is an agricultural value chains programme designed to be private sector led and demand driven in approach to facilitate and promote agribusiness.”
He said the Government of Ghana and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) have collectively injected $113 million into the six years programme which is to augment the achievements of Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP).
“Government is providing $7.5 million while IFAD loan is $71.60 million for over six years. IFAD has also provided a grant of $10.0 million to mitigate the effects of climate change under ASAP (Adaptation for smallholder Agric Programme.”
Alhaji Limuna urged the public and private sector actors to adopt the new approach as a tool for promoting agribusiness.
“(GASIP) is going to publish a call for proposals where various value chain actors (agricultural producers, processors and marketers will submit what businesses they do and the type of support they require from GASIP.”
Alhaji Limuna called for simple and precise proposals from smallholder farmers and farmer groups to attract support from GASIP.
“GASIP will evaluate these proposals to see how these businesses if supported will ultimately increase the incomes of smallholder farmers especially the rural poor.”
The minister disclosed. He outlined GASIP’s setup as technology and extension support, matching grants (a form of subsidy financing for the purchase of agric machinery and equipment, value chain infrastructure such as feeder roads, irrigation schemes, warehouses and pack houses, access to finances through linkages to financial institution.”
Youth in agriculture Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna said GASIP is intended to promote government’s youth in agriculture policy.
“For the youth to be attracted into agriculture, we are ensuring the availability of equipment such as tractors and the accessories.” “As I speak, tractors and their accessories and combine harvesters have started arriving at Tema Port and will be cleared quickly to meet this cropping season.”
He disclosed the ministry’s intension to give priority to women and the youth who are interested in commercial agriculture. The minister on fertilizer subsidy programme stated, “On the fertilizer subsidy we have gone high tech. It is now computerized and extension officers have been given mobile phones for this purpose and this is to ensure that the real farmers get the fertilizers and not fertilizer smugglers.”
He, therefore, encouraged farmers to register with agric extension officers to have access to the subsidized fertilizers. Alhaji Limuna advised agricultural extension officers to decouple partisan politics from their administrative duties. “We acknowledge that we cannot all belong to the same party. If your party is not in power do not attempt to sabotage the ruling party’s programmes.”
National Coordinator of the Ghana Agric Investment Programme, Roy Ayariga said GASIP will focus on reducing rural poverty to zero. “The objective of the programme is to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction in rural Ghana ensuring that agribusiness including smallholders increase their profitability and resilience to climate change.”
“The programme is national in scope and governed by a demand and market-driven approach that will provide a basis for scaling up investments in pro-poor agricultural value chain development led by the private sector.”
Roy Ayariga mentioned Value Chain Development, Rural Value Chain Infrastructure and Knowledge Management, Policy Support and Coordination as the three main components of GASIP.
By extension, the agric minister visited Tibzaa Farms at Dufaa and Avnash rice processing plant at Nyankpala. He commended management of Avnash for establishing the biggest rice processing plant in the Northern Region to support rice farmers.
Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna however raised concern over the company’s rejection of local rice produced by some smallholder farmers. This situation he said is discouraging rice farmers from improving their yields.
He was impressed with the agribusiness drive of the Tibzaa Farms owned by Sintaro Mahama.