The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has disclosed in an assessment report that the mouth-touted benefits of the Planting For Food And Jobs (PFJ) initiative might be a mirage, especially to smallholder farmers.
According to the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, though the PFJ initiative has impacted the operations and activities of farmers, the result is mixed, and there are fears that the intended benefits of the initiative might only be an illusion.
The PFAG iterated the fact that the nature of agribusiness is chain-linked and focuses not only on inputs and farm production but also on the entire value chain, from farm to fork.
“For enhancing the performance of smallholder farmers, who are central to the PFJ, actions should be directed towards achieving all the targets and indicators outlined in the five pillars. Reducing the success of the PFJ only to supply and accessibility to seeds and fertilizers is only part of a bigger problem addressed, and probably risk being counter-productive in the medium to long term”.Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana
According to the PFAG, the full benefits of the PFJ can be achieved if the government considers the following: Ensure the timely release of adequate quantities of high-quality desired seed varieties with a high market potential or desirability to farmers; Address the late delivery of chemical fertilizers to farmers, and increase surveillance in the transportation and distribution of fertilizers to curtail smuggling.
On the E-agriculture module under the PFJ, the PFAG further suggested that the government leverage its partnership with private IT firms and startups to make the E-agriculture module vibrant.
“The government should consider inviting more resourceful and experienced private sector players to implement the E-Agriculture pillar of the PFJ programme. More specifically, the focus should enable farmers to access critical and timely production and market-related services. Also, E-Agriculture should be integrated into Ghana’s agricultural modernization policy. The government should formulate policies that incentivize the development of a demand-driven e-agriculture platform to link farmers to extension services, input and output markets, market information, prices, and the financial markets”.Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana
It can be recalled the Minister of Food and Agriculture mentioned in a recent interview that the ministry has employed over 3000 extension officers to help in knowledge dissemination to rural farmers. According to the PFAG, extension service delivery should focus on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), agrochemical handling, post-harvest management practices, and financial market linkage. However, the Association mentioned that resources and capacities should be directed towards equally essential issues of literacy, numeracy, and basic health, which are complementary to ensuring a holistic extension service delivery to rural farmers.
Enhanced access to domestic and international markets allows small producers to reliably sell more produce with better quality and at higher prices. This, in turn, encourages farmers to invest in their businesses and increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of the goods they produce.
The PFAG advised that the government should link smallholder farmers to middle and high-end markets. The Association also mentioned that while value addition and processing are much highlighted under the PFJ, the government must hasten and actualize the implementation of warehouse receipts systems for farmers who need quality storage and better prices for raw commodities.
Following the Russia-Ukraine crisis, fuel and food prices on the domestic market have increased. While others believe Ghana’s food security is being threatened, others believe Ghana will be back to normal. While at it, many discussions have been held about the Planting For Food And Jobs as the initiative has been touted to be why Ghana is still food secured. The government needs a more drastic measure to ensure all the PFAG’s recommendations are followed and implemented to harness all the potential benefits of the PFJ program.