The Ghana Association of Farm Producers has disclosed that access to credit has become a major challenge for its members. According to the Association, the challenge has been persistent following the clean-up of the financial sector.
Speaking in an interview, the Secretary-General of the Association, Mark Kebo Akparibo, expressed the need for government to roll out a stimulus package. This, he explains, will help smallholder farmers to revamp their operations.
He made this revelation at the Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers National (GhaFFFaP) dialogue series. The program was themed: ‘Smallholder forest and farm producers; key agents for delivering sustainable development goals in the context of green recovery’.
“One of the things we realized was that the conditions on the firms of the stimulus package was most skewed towards the trader level [and] businesses rather than the production-level businesses who are the forest farm producers at the base.
So, we are calling on government to have a special stimulus package that addresses the concerns of smallholder forest and farm producers, especially to ensuring food security. Food security is a major concern in this country. But financing has been a huge challenge because one of the things was the banking sector clean-up.
“Our members were usually people who would save in the micro finance institutions and other financial institutions that are based especially in the districts and in our communities. When the clean-up occurred… most of our members who are also involved in village-based saving schemes; had monies locked up these financial institutions. It was a huge challenge”.
On his part Abdul Rahman, President of the Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producer (GhaFFFaP), appealed to government to increase subsidy of fertilizers and seeds for food security.
“The COVID-19 has affected our activities, so much increasing the cost of farm inputs. If government do not support us, the food security situation in 2022 will not be good. For this reason, I want to make the following demand on behalf of GhaFFFaP to government.
“We want government to increase subsidy on fertilizer and seeds. [Also], want government to support with mechanisation services, including combine harvesters”.
The Deputy Regional Director the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jocelyn Brown Hall, in March this year, confirmed that food is available. Prior to this, the Minister for Food and Agriculture in 2020 referred to Ghana as West Africa’s bread basket.
That notwithstanding, she expressed her worry about the access and nutritional components of food security in the country.
She averred that food security has three components. These components, she explained are dependent on its availability, access to people and whether it is “safe and nutritious”.
By this, she revealed that access “means whether people have the means to pay for it”.
“Those two areas; the access where people are losing their livelihoods, are they able to pay for it or nutritious food. Those are the things we are working on and hoping that malnutrition has not increased because we do know that peoples’ livelihoods have decreased”.