The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAJ) has urged the NDC and the NPP to prioritise agric processing and marketing when either of them win the next election.
The Association says it is not enough for the next government to limit their support of peasant farmers to the supply of inputs like fertilisers and seedlings without paying attention to how the produce gets marketed and processed eventually.
“More than 70% of (government’s) investment is in production… that is fertilizer and seed subsidy… we won’t be too impressed that you invest in inputs, you harvest, you are not able to sell, you are not able to store, you are not able to market,” Charles Nyaaba who is heads of programmes and advocacy at the association explained.
“We need balanced investment that cuts across the value chain activities and across various sectors,” he added.
Mr. Nyaaba was speaking at the Agriculture Manifesto Forum in Accra to discuss the strategies outlined by both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) in their 2020 manifestos to address challenges in agriculture.
He expressed concern that current investment in agriculture is skewed towards crops, especially cash crops like cocoa for export.
He noted that post-harvest losses is hardly prioritized and investment in livestock and fisheries is scanty. He called for more focus on poultry, as well as cattle, goat and sheep which he says are not prioritized.
“Whilst Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is doing well for the crop sub-sector, in the area of livestock, cattle, goat and sheep, we haven’t done anything at all… we want to see investments across all these areas,” Mr. Nyaaba noted.
He was concerned that investments in agriculture by government has seen a decline over the years, leaving foreign partners to shoulder a lot of the burden.
“A greater part of the investment from 2017 to 2020 is from development partners. From 38% in 2017 to about 43% in 2020…Real commitments from governments over time has declined,” he noted.
Mr. Nyaaba also expressed concern smallholder farmers are not being given priority in appointments by the government.
He identified the recently appointed Tree Crops Development Authority Board as an example of government appointments where the farmer representative on the board is a cashew exporter who will not serve the interest of small holder producers.
He also expressed worry no small holder farmer has received national best farmer award before, noting the arrangement is skewed towards rich, large scale producers which is unfair.
Mr. Nyaaba served notice members of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana will only vote for the political party that shows through its manifesto that it prioritises the concerns they are raising.
Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Sagre Bambagini said the NPP has delivered on its promises over the last four years and deserves a second term to build on successes chalked.
The NDC spokesperson on agriculture, Harry Yamson said the NDC has superior plans for the sector and is the better alternative for farmers in the country.
Abdulkarim Mohammed who is Country Director of International Budget Partnership observed there was the need for leaders of political parties to continually engage farmers on their plans and policies for the agricultural sector.
Head of Programmes and Campaigns at Oxfam Ghana, Mohammed Anwar Sadat Adam said after the elections, political parties should be ready to continue engaging farmers so their voices are always heard in policy planning and implementation processes.
The National President of the PFAJ, Mohammed Abdul – Rahman Mohammed called for peace ahead of the polls.
He however observed there will be no peace if there is no food.