MOBILISING ACTION TOWARDS AGRIC SECTOR IMRPOVEMENT (MAASI)
The Agric sector currently employs about 50 percent of Ghana’s total labour force. Agriculture happens to be the main economic activity in most of the districts in Ghana in terms of employment and rural income generation. This is the case in Asuogyaman, Lower Manya Krobo, Upper Manya Krobo, Yilo Krobo, Akuapem North in the Eastern Region and Shai- Osudoku in the Greater Accra Region. In Asuogyaman about 81% of the working population are engaged in this sector, 67 percent in Akuapem North, 82.5% in Lower Manya, 58% in Yilo Krobo and 58.6% in Shai-Osudoku. Despite the sector being the backbone of these districts, very little resources are channeled towards the development of the sector.
The situation seems to have been worsened with the introduction of the Local Government Legislative Instrument (L1) 1961. The L1 1961 provided the conversion of Ministries into Departments of Assemblies. By this Act, the offices of the Ministry of Food and Agric (MOFA) among other offices were transferred to the local assemblies. They were reconstituted into district level Department of Agric (DOA) and made part of the local governance structure. The Act requires the preparation of a composite budget system at the district level by integrating the budgets of the Departments into the budgets of the District/Municipal Assemblies. This leaves Assemblies to define the focus of their budget and expenditure towards Agriculture. The Agric sector at the district level now competes with other sectors for resources unlike previously when the sector receives funds from MOFA directly through Regional Agricultural Development Unit (RADU). Already Assemblies are resource constrained with limited funding and these funds are sometimes released very late, Assemblies therefore tend to focus on other sectors to the neglect of the Agric sector. A study conducted by the International Food Research Policy, 3013, indicatedthat little involvement of DOA in the preparation of the composite budget and this transcends to lower levels as DOA is also not able to solicit inputs from farmer based organizations in the preparation of their plans and budgets.
Also, in other to achieve a target agricultural GDP growth of at least 6% per annum halving poverty by 2015 in consonance with MDG 1 and based on government expenditure allocation of the national budget of at least 10%,the Government of Ghana developed Food and Agricultural Sector Policy (FASDEP) II and the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP),Even though these policies have been in place for some time, key stakeholders such as staff of DOA, Farmer based organizations, officials of the District Assemblies and assembly members have limited information about it and are not able to advocate for the implementation of these policies therefore leading to limited resource allocation to the agric sector at the district level.
The ‘Mobilizing Action towards Agric Sector Improvement (MAASI) seeks to build capacities of Department of Agriculture (DOA), District Assemblies to ensure increased allocation of resources to the DOA and also promote participatory development of plans and budget of the DOA.
MAASI is being implemented by FMSL Multimedia withsupport from USAID/Ghana Feed the Future (FtF) Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP).The project coverssix (6) Municipals/Districts in the Eastern Region namely Asuogyaman, Lower Manya Krobo, Yilo Krobo, Upper Manya, Akuapem North and Shai Osudok uin Greater Accra Region and ends in October 2016.
Under the project, Rite 90.1FM is expected to build the capacity of staff of DOA and DA in all 6 districts on the FASDEP and METASIP policies and how DOA can intervene to ensure its implementation at the District level.
MOBILISING ACTION TOWARDS AGRIC SECTOR IMPROVEMENT (MAASI) PROJECT
The MAASI project so far has organized a two day workshop in all six project districts. During the workshop action plans were drafted for all Department of Agriculture (DOAs) which are being implemented by the various DOAs.
The Radio program dubbed “Feed the Future Platform” has also been educating farmers, raising more attention for agriculture in all project districts and bridging the gap between the value chain players in the agricultural industry. The radio program will be organized once weekly till the end of the project.
Rite 90.1 FM organized a baseline study to collect information on project participants to provide benchmark for measuring the project achievements and impacts – at the objectives, intermediate and results levels. The survey was carried out between October and November 2015.
The findings of a baseline study of the project Mobilizing Action towards Agric Sector Improvement an initiative of FMSL Multimedia Ltd (Rite 90.1FM) with funding support from the USAID/ Ghana Feed the Future (FtF) Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP) has been validated by stakeholders and will be serving as a bench mach for measuring the project impact in October, 2016.
Key findings of the project were identified as follows:
- The survey results indicate that majority of the respondents (92.2%) had some knowledge on the functions of the DOA.
- Every 3 out of 4 group members interviewed have been invited to participate in some of the activities of DOA before.
- About 77.9% of respondents who held leadership positions in their groups were aware of their associations having been invited to participate in activities of the department before compared to 73% of ordinary group members. Amongst the activities organised by the DOA for respondents were training on the application of fertilizer, record keeping of farm activities and productivity, group formation dynamics, and how to liaise with extension officers. The farmers were also offered training on mango farming, grass-cutter rearing, growing mushroom, animal husbandry, good storage practices, pest control, marketing of produce, climate change.
- Only 12.6 percent of the respondents possessed knowledge on how DOA plans and budgets are prepared.
- The survey also revealed that over 92 percent of the respondents had no idea on when the next budget and plans of the DOA will be prepared.
- The main issues presented by farmers to the DOA to be incorporated in the annual plans and budgets were on access to farm inputs (82.1%), access to credit facilities (50%), access to markets (32.1%), training on modern methods of farming (13.1%) and provision of good roads (11.9%). These farm inputs include fertilizer, insecticides, improved seedlings, cutlass, and weedicides amongst other things.
- It was further revealed that only 8.3 percent of issues presented to the DOA were actually included in the plans and budgets.
- A greater proportion of the respondents are of the opinion that the FBOs have low involvement in the DOA planning process (45.8%). This was corroborated by staff of DOA during key informant interviews.
- To increase FBOs participation in the development, planning, implementation and monitoring of DOAs plans and budgets, the respondents were of the view that FBOs should be invited to participate in planning meetings (76.4%), and should also be consulted to submit pertinent issues affecting the group and industries (75.9%). Providing feedbacks on processes and involving FBOs in the monitoring of plans and budgets were also amongst the popular strategies suggested by the respondents to increase their participation.
- Amongst those who have ever participated in the preparation of plans and budgets for the DOA, 25 percent were involved in 2012, 33.3 percent and 51.2 percent participated in 2013 and 2014, respectively whilst 46.4 percent were in involved in 2015.
- On the specific things those who assisted in the budget and plans preparation did, about 78.6 percent of them submitted inputs for consideration whereas 36.9 percent participated in planning meetings, 6 percent participated in public hearing and 4.8 percent were given feedback on plans and budgets by the DOA.
- Over 78.7 percent of the respondents were involved in advocacy campaigns on agricultural related issues in the district. Availability of farm inputs (88.3), access to credit (78.8%) and availability of ready markets (74.5%) were the main issues the respondents advocated for.
- Even though nearly two-thirds (64.1%) of respondents did not get their issues resolved, 98.8% of respondents were willing to advocate on issues of Agriculture.
- These respondents were hopeful that such actions would help improve their living standards (95.7%), reduce poverty (92.2%), create employment (71.6%) and generate revenue for the state.
- 2 out of the 6 districts has Agric Sub Committees. Districts with no Sub Committees on Agric, issues of are handled by Development Planning Sub Committee.
- The survey revealed that staff of DOA and MMDAs has concerns about the implementation of L.I. 1961.
- On the issue of budget cuts and delays, in 2014, DOAs received funds for only one quarter and in 2015 as at the time of conducting the survey in October 2015, none of the DOAs have received funds for 2015 fiscal year as this impact negatively on planned activities.
Key conclusions & Recommendations by Rite FM to the stakeholders of the project are:
- Most FBOs interviewed in this survey believed they are not adequately consulted in the preparation of plans and budgets by DOA and even for those who are consulted, they are not provided feedback as to whether suggestions made were incorporated into the plan or not. This suggest that DOA must put in place measures to ensure greater participation of FBOs in the development of plans and budget, they should also liaise with chiefs and opinion leaders, NGOs and other private institutions to provide support to engage the farmers.
- The study also shows the staff of DOA have limited knowledge on the L1 961, as a result they are not able to meaningfully participate and engage the process especially in the development of the composite budget to ensure greater allocation to the sector. On this note DOA must adopt approaches to make Agriculture relevant to the leaders of the MMDAs including the Municipal/District Chief Executives in other to ensure continuous and increased funding to the sector. There is the need for training for both staff of DOA and MMDAs to deepen knowledge to achieve the objective of the L1 1961. The MAASI project may therefore, evolve innovating strategies to engage duty bearers to see the essence of supporting Agriculture in their respective districts. Also the project can use the radio platforms to educate farmers on the planning processes of the DOA, solicit inputs for consideration and provide feedback to farmers on DOA plans and budgets.
- On the issue of composite budgeting, there is the need for Assemblies to adhere to laid down guidelines by issuing a calendar at the beginning of each year to guide the budget process so that all departments and other stakeholders as well as the public to follow the budgeting process.
The project will continue throughout 2016 to improve upon the lives of Farmers under the watch of Rite 90.1 Fm.