Interacting with stakeholders following the recent intention of the government to engage The International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help sustain fiscal policies, and give an image that resonates with investors, the membership, and partners of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana are plagued with a mix of expectations.
It is of trite knowledge, the harm the pandemic has caused the players in the agriculture and agribusiness value chain.
Just to highlight a few: cost of agriculture inputs, raw produce to feed processing installations, labour cost, storage facilities to manage post-harvest losses, raw materials to process feed for poultry and livestock industries, availability of various seed varieties and many more.
One would have thought that the African Union’s Declaration on ending hunger by 2030 program towards food security would materialize especially with a few years towards the set agenda date, 2030.
We are not oblivious of the fact that this has been exacerbated by unreliable climate change, the COVID 19 pandemic, and quite recently the Russia-Ukraine war which has exposed the country, the continent, and the globe at large. Locally we can point to the many instances of disregard for the financial administration act, procurement laws, and all principles of fair usage of financial resources.
Due to this, the cost of agricultural inputs has plummeted to high digits, unavailability of raw materials to feed our factories have become an aching albatross, and transporting our products from farm gates to market centers has become an issue affecting our hard-working farmers: Bad roads and the absence of market structures, an example is the KPASA market in the OTI Region of Ghana.
IMF as its function will seek to restrict spending and properly manage the little resources left and those in transit. This usually impresses dire consequences on beneficiary member countries and their citizens. This results in the widening of the unemployment gap, and further contracts the economy due to these mutually agreed conditions that nations sign on to.
To reduce the resultant effect of going to the IMF, we in the agribusiness ecosystem advise the government to be radical in supporting and expanding agriculture and agribusinesses, we believe we can reduce unemployment if agricultural import bills are reduced by paying attention to agricultural inputs: equipment, machinery, fertilizer, seeds and more that eases the fatigue of producing to feed the country and secure the future in terms of food.
We expect financial institutions to make credit available to processors to process produce hence the way we can manage post-harvest losses.
There should be a deliberate strategy to improve the skills of the vulnerable rural farmers and the youth. Entrepreneurial skills embedded in our educational programs as TVET service is billed to do, when attention is paid to these, we believe the burden of a recessional economy will be minimal.
If the government seeks to recover the economy, then, the attention should be on agriculture rather than IMF.