In part I of a three-part series, we look at the many challenges that confront Ghana’s agriculture sector.
Ghana is faced with a harsh reality: a decline in agricultural productivity continues to threaten the economic development of the country.
Inadequate finances, climate change, poor pricing and marketing incentives, inadequate agricultural extension agents, pest and diseases and a lack of access to fertilizers are all contributing to the declining fortunes of the sector.
David Asare Asiamah (Founder and CEO, AgroMindset) and Emmanuel Tokunbo Darko (CEO, Babaoo Foods Limited) explain some of the challenges that have stalled the growth of agricultural productivity in Ghana.
Poor Financial Support
For Emmanuel, the lack of financial support systems to enable farmers grow, expand and maintain their yield is problematic. “Although there are several micro-finance groups operating in the country today, not many smallholder farmers have access to these groups and not many farmers even know how these groups operate and how such groups can help them in the long run.”
Lack of access to fertilizers
“Farming on the same piece of land for years leads to land degradation, which makes these lands lose most of their soil nutrients and become unproductive or barren”, he says. “Farmers therefore depend on fertilizers to enable them grow crops and improve their yields. But these fertilizers are expensive so some form of assistance, like giving farming aids, will go a long way to helping our smallholder farmers.”
Poor Transportation and Storage Facilities
“Most of the farm produce just go to waste in our remote areas because farmers find it difficult transporting their farm produce to the market to sell.” David insists. “The roads don’t exist and most remote areas find themselves cut off from the rest of the country. And because there are no proper storage facilities in these areas, a lot of the produce just rot away.”
Lack of Information
David makes the case that a lack of information is one of the major problems facing most smallholder farmers in Ghana. “Most farmers in remote areas have no access to information at all (some don’t even have radio sets),” he says. “Even those in sub-urban areas have limited access to information and lack what it takes to process the information they receive. In cases where there is some access to information like crop rotation, the use of fertilizer, etc. farmers are unable to understand due to illiteracy.”
“One of the major impediments is smallholder farmers’ lack of access to markets to sell their farm produce,” Emmanuel says. “Most local markets are thin, and trading in distant urban markets is not lucrative enough (owing to high transportation and transaction costs).”
All of these have conspired to stifle the growth of the country’s backbone and reduced the appetite of the youth for Agriculture.
For David and Emmanuel, these challenges are self-inflicted and can be resolved.
In Part II, we look at measures that can be taken to return the agricultural sector to its pride of place in the economy.