Funding challenges put 'Agric Marshall Plan' in limbo

Source: Ghana | Bismark Awusah | JoyBusiness
Date: 9th-july-2018 Time:  9:39:51 am

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Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Sagre Bambangi says the government’s much-touted Marshall Plan for Agric is facing a financial challenge.

The Plan was expected to build on the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) - an initiative of the government and help enhance food security, improve farm productivity, among others.

Last year government indicated that it would allocate about GH¢700 million of 2018 budget to the said plan.

But in what sounds like a sharp ‘u-turn’, Dr Bambangi says the Marshall Plan can only be harnessed if some funds are secured.

“The Marshall Plan; we had initial meetings and we had some platforms to discuss it but a lot of it depends on financing and the central government is searching seriously for  ways of financing and if we are able to lay hands on finance, then we can be bold on the Marshall Plan.” 

He was speaking to JoyBusiness on the sidelines of the 2018 Agriculture Policy Research Summit organized by USAID on its Feed the Future (FtF) Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP).

The project which saw the partnership of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) sought to provide “Recommendations for Enhancing the Planting for Food and Jobs Program and Promoting Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable and Inclusive Agriculture Growth.”

Findings

The findings of the study specify that farmers were more aware of the subsidized fertilizer and seed components; and less aware of the other three packages: e-agriculture, agricultural extension services, and market linkages. 

It also revealed that just 6% and 15% of participants of the PFJ were youth and women respectively. 

The study noticed that the yields for maize, rice and soybean have increased by 3.66%, 8.54% and 7.54% respectively, in the first year of implementation.

Challenges

Meanwhile, the study revealed some challenges confronting the implementation of the PFJ. 

It says, there is an inadequate and untimely supply of inputs, especially seed and fertilizer, interference of politicians, cumbersome mode of payment for inputs, lack of support from some MoFA and District Assemblies and inadequate education and information about packages of the pillars of PFJ.

Recommendations

Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that there was the need for an awareness campaign (using local languages), to spell out details of the program, and giving information to farmers on how and where they may access each of the pillars. 

There is also the need for PFJ secretariat and major stakeholders to offer specialized packages to target women and the youth. 

Related coverage: Agriculture in Ghana

Also, adequate inputs like fertilizer and seeds should be timely supplied to farmers and the time of supply should be differentiated according to agro-ecological zone, among others.

Topical among the discussions was the need for Ghana’s agricultural sector to adopt Public-Private Partnership policy to help create the enabling environment needed to promote sustainable business partnerships.

Background on summit

Since its inception in 2013, APSP has worked with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as its main partner to increase government, private sector, and civil society organization’s capacity to formulate evidence-based policies, implement policy programs, conduct research and advocacy, and perform rigorous monitoring and evaluation of agricultural programs implemented under Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) and other government priorities. 

In August 2017, APSP implemented its first Agriculture Policy Research Summit to present and discuss nine project-supported agriculture policy research studies. 

MoFA’s leadership commended USAID through APSP for organizing the summit and highlighted that it was the first time in more than 15 years that such an event was being implemented for the benefit of Ghana’s agriculture sector.

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