Let’s congratulate farmers across the country whose sacrifice ensure Ghana is fed and nourished. Congrats again to those who were awarded on this farmers’ day. We bid felicitations to the thousands of unsung farmers whose effort to feed their communities sometimes go unnoticed.
Now that the pomp and pageantry is over, let us address the genuine problems facing farmers in Ghana.
FIVE CHALLENGES THAT NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
Farmers in Ghana face numerous challenges. Here are the top five of these problems.
1. Lack of Subsidies
The first problem on my list is the lack of subsidies in the agricultural industry. Farmers in developed economies are heavily subsidized by their governments. This means they have low operational costs. This allows them to offer their produce at affordable prices to consumers. However, this does not exist in Ghana. The scanty subsidies that are dashed here and there appear in either red, white and blue colors or green, white, red and black colors of the two dominant political parties.
2. Extortionate Loans
The second major challenge confronting farmers in Ghana is the absence of affordable loans to expand and modernize farms. Banks in Ghana lend money at unconscionable interest rates. They are no different from what is generally termed as loan-sharks in informed jurisdictions. In a country struggling to create decent jobs for its citizens, one would expect lower interest rates to be the norm and a priority of the state. Lower interest rates would allow businesses to access affordable capital to grow and hire more people.
3. Land Acquistion
Thirdly, land acquisition continues to hamper the growth of the agricultural industry. Acquiring decent acreage of land in Ghana for commercial farming is daunting task for many would-be farmers. Despite the millions of donor money funneled into streamlining land administration, including the World Bank funded LAP modules, the challenges remain largely unresolved.
4. Politicization of State Support
The fourth problem facing many farmers is the politicization of state support. Distribution of the government’s agricultural largesse to farmers should be done on a need basis rather than on party colors.
5. Malpractices in Donor-funded Initiatives
Moreover, politicians and well-connected individuals in the cities suddenly become farmers when a major donor-funded farming initiative is announced. These opportunist farmers end up appropriating these resources at the expense of the rural farmers. Stringent mechanisms must be put in place to check this malpractice.
The deafening calls for the youth to explore the opportunities in the agricultural sector is laudable. However, Ghana continues to be a difficult country to operate in as a farmer. As a country, we have failed to address the problems in land acquisition, financing, production and distribution in the agricultural value chain. Until deliberate and thoughtful measures are put in place to lure the youth into farming, they will continue to look elsewhere.