Senior research fellow at the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Prof Charles Ackah, has expressed the need for government to invest massively in agriculture.
According to him, for the country to witness phenomenal growth in the economy, it must tackle problems which impedes its growth. He revealed that government is using scarce resources in importing food that should have been produced in the country.
Prof Ackah stated that governments overtime, have paid lip-service to agriculture for far too long and must put a stop to it.
“There’s no way Ghana will develop if we don’t come back to invest massively in agriculture and through agriculture to solve our food needs and be self-sufficient in food. Because that will control inflation and then we will stop importing into this country… That is the first place our problem is coming from.”Prof Charles Ackah
Prof Ackah stated that for a country like Ghana, there’s no problem with borrowing from its Central Bank to grow the economy. Citing an example, he noted that countries such as Britain, the US and all the Asian countries developed and industrialized with the Central Bank financing massively.
Additionally, he stated that per records of ISSER, the causes of inflation in Ghana has not mainly been Central Bank financing, but has been due to inflation born out of lack of agriculture. This, he indicated, is because inflation in the country is mainly food inflation and imported inflation.
“So, if we get Central Bank for example, to give government money to industrialize agriculture, labour intensive agriculture and we get that money from the Central Bank and we invest it into oil palm, cocoa, rice and poultry, I don’t see how that causes inflation… We need to solve this agric problem.”Prof Charles Ackah
Creating a business–friendly environment for agriculture to thrive
Furthermore, Prof Ackah emphasized that a country that cannot feed itself and has to import most of the things to consume cannot develop, and that agriculture is the place to industrialize.
With this, he noted that industrialization must be based on agro-industrialization and must not only be left to the private sector.
“It needs to be de-risked, which means the government needs to take the lead, must be entrepreneurial… How can you borrow between 30% to 40% to do farming? Farmers almost take loans of 40% from the rural bank and they are to pay back in one year.”Prof Charles Ackah
Touching on Ghana’s consistency in borrowing and debt portfolio, the ISSER Senior research fellow explained that Ghana has had very bad governments since the 1960’s which is very worrying. This, he revealed, is due to much of the country’s politics being “irrational, capricious”, riddled with corruption and mismanagement.
“If you go back to the 1960’s Ghana was better off than Malaysia and South Korea or at par in terms of GDP and see where Malaysia and South Korea are now… So, we need to question ourselves what kind of people are we voting into power and what are the checks and balances?”Prof Charles Ackah
Democracy, Prof Ackah emphasized, is the way to go but it’s not working at the moment because the institutions have failed. To address the problem, he expressed the need for government to relook at all the country’s economic and governance institutions, starting from the Central Bank, parliament, Council of State, ministry of finance, SOE’s and weigh their performance.
“Our politics and our governance is too capricious, irrational, and illogical and I think it’s just self-serving and we need to have a look at our institutions and second look at our governance and whether they are fit for purpose…”Prof Charles Ackah