“Tackle agribusiness bottlenecks”

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agribusiness bottlenecks

The West Africa Regional Director of Africa Lead subsidiary of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Carla Denizard, has underscored the need for government and its development partners to tackle the bottlenecks in agribusiness financing and access to land-natural resource management.

This, she said, would be a milestone in assisting agribusiness actors, particularly women, to capitalize on the vast opportunities in Ghana’s agricultural value chain to advance the development of society.  Agricultural policies must also make room to nurture ‘female agripreneurs’ by addressing all the gaps militating against active women’s participation in agribusiness, she added.

Madam Denizard also stressed the importance of building the capacities of women in agribusiness, especially with leadership skills, to position them as agents of transformation in society.

She was addressing a capacity building conference in Sunyani for about 150 women in agribusiness.  The two-day event was aimed at bringing to bear the efforts of women in the Ghanaian Agricultural landscape, hinging on objectives such as: increasing the skills and knowledge of women in agribusiness; empowering and inspiring women to start or scale-up their agribusinesses and integrate nutrition into their activities.

The ‘2nd Super Champion for Change Women Conference’ was organised by USAID-Africa Lead under the auspices of the US Government’s Feed the Future campaign.  It was under the theme ‘Scaling up Agribusiness & Improving Nutrition in Ghana’, and in line with USAID’s mandate of promoting the inclusiveness of youth and women in advancing agriculture transformation in Africa.

The Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoFA), Dr Cyril Quist, emphasised the importance of building food systems around the commodity value chain as well as encouraging and supporting the growth and development of agribusiness, adding: “This is the path that will guarantee and ensure increased incomes in agriculture and the general standard of living”.

He said: “This paradigm-shift imposes a herculean task on all stakeholders, since agribusiness operates and thrives in an environment of competition, enhanced efficiency, and increased productivity which ultimately should translate into increased incomes”.

The Regional MoFA Director therefore urged all stakeholders to deal firmly with issues surrounding standards and accompanying requirements of quality and safety.  “These demands of the environment require engagement with relevant standard authorities to develop standards where they do not exist, and also to make available and sensitise stakeholders on standards already developed”.

Madam Felicia Owusu-Nyantakyi of the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), said it is inappropriate that women in the country form the agricultural value chain’s bedrock yet constitute the majority of poor and vulnerable people in society.  This and many other reasons informed the formation of Women in Agribusiness Network of Ghana (WIANG) in 2014 by Africa Lead, she stated.

The goal of the women’s network is to facilitate networking, coaching, mentoring, business advisory services, knowledge-sharing, marketing and business linkages among its members to support agricultural growth, transformation, and food security.  She entreated women in agribusiness to join the network, so that “together we can make agriculture worthwhile for improved livelihoods, nutrition and food security.

Business Journal strongly supports this bold steps of our women engaged in farming activities, and on the occasion of the just ended 33rd National Farmers Day celebration, we extend a hand of ayeeko, (well done!) to our indefatigable farmers and fishers, for their untiring efforts at ensuring food security in the country.

We share in the pride and joy of the 67 farmers and fishers who had been honoured with various prizes at the national level at Kumasi and more others at the district levels across the country, indeed they deserve the awards and many more!

We wish to assure the gallant farmers and fishers of our unflinching support to them, by holding the government accountable to create the enabling environment to make farming a lucrative business not a mere part-time job.

We associate with the theme of the celebration, ‘Farming for Food and Jobs, and support the government’s flagship agricultural policy, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) meant to arrest the down trend of agricultural productivity and to rediscover our past glory of being the food-basket in the West African sub-region.

Every new policy may have some implementation challenges; and we note with concern some of the implementation challenges in the PFJ programme and other agricultural interventions and express the hope that a lot of lessons have been learnt from the implementation of the policy to inform better decision taking.

On the occasion of this auspicious day, we wish to ventilate some concern to policy makers for redress.

We wish to stress on the need for the government to take decisive measures to revamp the seed industry which we learnt has almost collapsed resulting in the lack of quality seeds for crop production.

Our research institutions are capable of addressing this challenge.  We therefore, appeal to the government to increase budgetary support to our research institutions to step up research and development in the seed industry.

Another area of concern for us is the ageing of our farmers and the seeming lack of interest on the part of the youth to venture into the sector to ensure continuity.

Time and again, we have learnt of government rolling out programmes to entice the youth into agriculture but the response has not been so encouraging.

Climate change is taking a heavy toll on agriculture production in the country, especially in the north, leading to dwindling fortunes in the agriculture production and deepening of poverty amongst the people of the regions whose major livelihood is agriculture.

We, therefore, urge the government to take the bull by the horn to increase irrigation facilities in the region to ensure all-year round crop production towards sustainable development.