Ghana has celebrated value chain actors in the agriculture sector for their valuable contribution to food security.
This year’s event, which is the 39th edition, is under the theme: “Delivering Smart Solutions for Sustainable Food Security and Resilience.”
At the national celebration in Tarkwa, Western Region of Ghana Madam Charity Akortia, 47, was adjudged the 2023 Overall National Best Farmer with 16 others awarded at the regional celebrations.
Akortia, the winner, a mixed farmer who hails from the Agona West District of the Central Region, received one million Ghana Cedis as her prize.
Theophilus Ackah, also a mixed farmer, emerged as the First Runner-up and was given a tractor, trailer and sprayer, while Kwaku Asiamah, a mixed farmer, took the Second Runner-up position, and went home with a tractor and implements.
The country also rewarded the National Best Female Farmer, National Best Physically-Challenged Farmer, National Best Livestock Farmer, National Best Fish Processor, National Best Fisher and National Best Cocoa Farmer.
The prizes ranged from cash prizes and plaques to KIA double cabin trucks.
Vice-President Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who presented the symbolic award commended the award winners for the feat achieved and contribution towards agriculture, the backbone of the economy.
The government was determined to inject the requisite resources into the sector for progress, he assured.
“There is still a lot that can be done to enhance efficiency in all the agricultural value chains,” he noted.
The 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to parliament on November 15, 2023, saw the total budget allocation for the three ministries (Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) and Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources (MOLNR), coordinating agriculture in 2024 increased by 74 per cent.
MOFA’s budget was GH¢5,054,184,462 (MOFA, GH¢3,020,653,634; MOFAD, GH¢298,772,253 and MOLNR, GH¢1,734,758,575), compared with the allocation of GH¢3,717,507,762 in 2023 (MOFA, GH¢2,153,234,369; MOFAD, GH¢213,308,813, and MOLNR, GH¢1,350,964,580).
While there is an increase in the actual budget allocation, computing the budget allocations using these three ministries shows that the agricultural sector budget allocation as a percentage of the total government budget in 2024 is the same as in 2023 – i.e., 1.95 per cent.
Dr. Bryan Acheampong, Minister of Food and Agriculture, expressed optimism that the country would achieve food sufficiency soon given the vibrant nature of the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.
According to him, the initiative serves as a driving force for generating lasting employment and fostering financial independence in a single impactful move and each aspect of the programme proactively addresses the obstacles and hurdles that hinder the youth’s preference to venture into agriculture as a viable business and means of livelihood.
He says working with technical experts the country is embarking on a journey that will enable the sector to play the crucial role of providing food security and the economic development of the country.
His goal is to lead a process to develop a turnaround sector strategy to tackle the issues confronting the sector with targets for self-sufficiency and increased exports by 2028, utilizing digital technology for monitoring and reporting.
Critics and industrial players like the Peasant Farmers Association are concerned about the flat growth expectations of the sector, as well as its contribution to the wider economy; especially as the issue of food security has attained increased importance following supply chain disruptions across the globe.
Despite the touted success of the government’s flagship programme ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ), the country is grappling with significant challenges including an annual expenditure of about US$ 2 billion on importing poultry, rice, sugar, vegetables and other food products.
This heavy reliance on imports has placed undue pressure on the national currency, contributing to high levels of inflation.
By mid-2023, food inflation had surpassed 50 per cent; primarily due to importing staple foods which could be produced locally in sufficient quantities.