Governments all over the world implement agricultural policies with the ultimate goal of achieving specific outcomes: guaranteed supply level, price stability, product quality, product selection, land use or employment.
Understandably, many experts argue that economies have an objective in assuring that there is sufficient domestic production wherewithal to meet domestic needs in the unlikely event of a global supply disruption.
Large dependence on foreign food suppliers makes a country disabled, in the event of war, blockade or embargo. Therefore, maintaining adequate domestic production allows for food self-sufficiency that reduces the risk of supply shocks due to unfavorable geopolitical events.
Ultimately, agricultural policies are intended to support domestic producers as they gain domestic and international market share.
The Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MOFA’s) stated vision is a “modernized agriculture culminating in a structurally transformed economy and evident in food security, employment opportunities and reduced poverty”.
In conformity with this vision, all strategic policies and plans includes, infrastructure development, and agricultural research and extension, as focus areas of policy intervention to achieve greater agricultural output for livelihood improvements. So doing, the policies takes into consideration, market-driven logic and foresees greater engagement of the private sector.
Some of the brilliant agricultural policies implemented by GoG under the Ministry of Agriculture since 2007, include:
Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II, 2007), The National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS, 2008), The Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP 2010-2015) is the implementation plan of FASDEP II, and The Planting for Foods and Jobs (2017-date) (Source: MOFA).
Programmes under these policies implemented by MOFA at national level include the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme, the Block Farming Programme, Agricultural Mechanization Centers and the Irrigation Development Programme. It is estimated that these programmes together comprise about 85 percent of the ministry’s capital budget (World Bank, 2015).
Brilliant as these policies are, and considering the jamboree in their launching, do they have any significant contribution to our economic growth as the cliché goes “Agriculture is the backbone of our economy?”
To answer this cliché, let’s look at the available data at the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), regarding the agriculture performance of the economy.
From the tables below: 1, 2, 3 and 4;
1. The growth rates of Gross Domestic Product at Constant 2013 Prices (percent) for the year ending 2018 were generally poor compared with the previous 2017, the drop for the Agriculture sector was 1.3%, (Table 1) with the fishing sub-sector witnessing a very poor growth since 2014, compared with other sectors like crop, forestry and livestock.
a. To improve the agric sector growth rate, more detailed action plan is needed to improve the fishing sub-sector.
2. Sadly, the distribution of non-oil GDP-Agriculture sector (2013-2018) had the least distribution compared with industry and services. More needs to be done in the distribution as well.
It is important to note that the 2019 provisional data saw an additional drop in the GDP growth rate at 0.2% (from 2018 4.8% to a 4.6% in 2019) according to recent data released by GSS. It is very clear that the significant policies previous and current Government kept in place are not yielding significant results compared with the political jamboree we usually witness during the policy launching.
Clearly, the reality on the grounds currently doesn't favour the Agriculture sector as the backbone of our economy.
In my next write up, I will proffer a policy orientation approach for the Ministry, going forward.
Haruna Gado Yakubu,
A student of Agriculture,
Research Fellow, ILAPI