In 2021, government outlined some measures to help improve agricultural productivity. Key among them was the acceleration of commercial farming.
It announced the creation of a Ghana Land Information Bank (GhLIB) to provide a reliable and easily accessible information platform to improve access to land for commercial farming.
Leveraging digital technology, government said it would work more closely with stakeholders to confront the structural challenge with commercial agriculture.
Some stakeholders in the agricultural sector, on the other hand, advocated that Ghana developed its own model to solve challenges that confronted the sector.
Specifically, they said the focus should be on innovative financing, proper targeting of inputs, improved extension services, and infrastructure and market accessibility, among others.
2021 budget statement
The then caretaker Minister of Finance, who is also the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, Mr Osei Kylie-Mensch-Bonsu, announced the creation of the GhLIB when he laid the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy before Parliament on March 12.
He said to complement the above initiative, government would also increase the procurement of local produce for schools, hospitals and prisons in order to help expand the market for farmers.
Some key programmes
Giving an update on the key programmes outlined in the budget to modernise agriculture and improve productivity, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said government would strengthen the support provided to agricultural modernisation.
He said the successful flagship programmes like the Planting for Food and Jobs and the Rearing for Food and Jobs (PFJ/RFJ) would continue and their implementation modalities improved upon to make them even more efficient and impactful.
“This year, we will heighten our focus on commercial farming to increase output and incomes, as well as employment, particularly among the educated youth. To this end, government will ensure that ongoing irrigation works, under the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project, are completed on time,” he said.
These, he said, would support all year-round farming covering about 7,490 hectares (Ha) and provide jobs as well as sustained income for the communities within the areas, when completed.
Sector performance and outlook
The budget said MoFA continued to roll out activities in the National Agricultural Investment Plan - Investing for Food and Jobs (IFJ) (2018-2021).
The priority initiatives being implemented under the plan are: PFJ; RFJ; Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD); Greenhouse Villages; and Agricultural Mechanisation.
Other complementary interventions include: irrigation and water management, agricultural marketing and post-harvest management.
Private sector-driven research
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced a shift in its focus from being a public sector institution to a private sector-driven research institution.
As a result, the council will liaise more with the private sector and conduct research to assist in product development, including the use of innovation, to make the council competitive on the global market.
The shift is anchored in its four-year strategic plan which, according to the Deputy Director-General of the CSIR, Professor Paul P. Bosu, would span 2021 to 2025, during which the CSIR would also undergo institutional rebranding to improve visibility.
“We are also going to engage the private sector more on its problems and do research that will directly address those challenges,” he said at a media capacity-building workshop in Accra.
He said all the 13 institutions under the CSIR were making inputs into the new strategy.
Digital agric hub
Also, the CSIR is developing a Digital Agricultural Innovation Hub (DAIH) that will aid farmers and other stakeholders in agriculture to easily access the various technologies available.
The DAIH hosts a set of reliable and easy-to-use integrated web and mobile-based platforms aimed at sharing knowledge and assisting the agricultural sector with innovative solutions that can be adopted to the real needs of local farmers and other value chain actors.
The DAIH development fell under the ‘Modernising Agriculture in Ghana’ (MAG) broader programme being supported by Global Affairs Canada to shore up Ghana’s agricultural sector development.
The intention was to re-orient farmers and others in the value chain towards market-led agribusinesses.
International Women’s Day
As part of efforts to empower women as Ghana joins the rest of the world to mark International Women’s Day (IWD), Ghanaian women entrepreneurs called for the empowerment of women in their respective fields.
For the women in agribusiness, empowering women in agricultural research was a key strategy for sustainable agricultural development.
The Executive Director of the Development Action Association (DAA), development-oriented farmer-based organisation, Mrs Lydia Sasu, in an interview on March 5, 2021, noted that although women in agribusiness significantly contributed to the agricultural development in the country, they seemed invisible in agricultural research and knowledge transfer.
She said agricultural research was important as scientists sought to discover procedures that would increase livestock and crop yields, improve farmland productivity, reduce loss due to disease and insects and increase overall food quality.