SEND Ghana: GHȻ411M Agric Budget Not Enough

Cocoa farmersSEND Ghana criticised government’s GHȻ 411 million planned spending on the agricultural sector next year, describing it as “inadequate” to guarantee food security in the country.

The policy research and social enterprise advocacy think-tank argues that resources allocated to the agric sector are “simply not enough” to turn around fortunes of the dominant economic sector in terms of increase in food production and economic empowerment of smallholder farmers who depend on the sector for their livelihood.

The Programme Officer of SEND-Ghana, Daniel Adotey Akai, explained to B&FT that the budgeted amount is far below expectations compared to the national medium-term expenditure framework for the agricultural sector, and that it poses a serious threat to food security and nutrition.

“On the surface, we get the impression the GHȻ411 million that has been allocated to fund agric activities in the 2015 operational year is an increase over the figure for 2014. But if we should look beyond the raw figure and interrogate the real value of the budget using dollar terms, that budget is even less than what was injected in 2014 – considering that most capital expenditures are indexed in dollars.

“Government’s medium- term expenditure framework for agriculture was projected at GHȻ719million; so if we compare that figure to the proposed GHȻ411million, then it is far below the expectation.

“That variance of more than 40 percent has negative implications for productivity in the country’s agric sector, and that is why the ministry that the investment is too minimal to trigger the necessary growth,” he told the B&FT.

Mr. Akai said the budget inadequacy will lead to dire consequences for the agric sector because of the decline in food crop production, and the disturbing trend whereby the growth triggers in the country’s agric sector are accounted for by logging and forestry.

“There are also clear indications that the budget cannot grow the food crop sub- sector; the projected growth in the food crop sub-sector for 2015 is 3.2 percent against this year’s 3.6 percent. This means that there will be a decline in crop production.

This is a very worrisome trend considering that growth in agriculture is currently accounted for by the logging and forestry sub-sector, which grew from virtually zero in2013 to 16.5 in 2014; but logging basically means depletion of natural resources because it does not put food directly to the table.

“If we want to address the issues of food security and nutrition, growth indicators in the agric sector should be from the food crop, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors. Otherwise, the sector will not produce enough food to feed the nation and farmers will not produce more to increase their income.

“The ideal situation is that these three key sub-sectors should be supported to grow in favour of forestry and logging, in the interest of food security,” he said.