The Ghana News Agency and the US Embassy have held discussions on improving agricultural production, marketing, distribution and market price information.
The event brought to the table agricultural experts from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Esoko to contribute to the policy debate on how agriculture can be improved to guarantee food security.
In a speech, Dr Victor Antwi, an Agribusiness Opportunities Development Unit Manager of USAID-Finance Ghana Agriculture Project (FINGAP), disclosed that the USAID-FINGAP was allocating USD 1.3million in grants to Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) for Incremental agricultural lending.
He added that these initiatives might be used in activities supporting agribusiness lending including staff capacity development, establishment of agricultural Desks and the purchasing of computers and vehicles, among others.
He said the project supported agribusinesses to access financing for activities in the value chain of rice, maize and soy.
Dr Antwi identified challenges facing the lending sector which, he said, included poor recovery rates, high risk and relatively high administrative costs for agriculture lending and FINGAP’s strategic solution through capacity building, risk management and injection of incentives.
He said by 2017, the programme would see Ghana meet more internal demand for targeted staple crops, improved materials and child nutrition and become a food provider to the West Africa region.
Esoko, a major stakeholder in the agriculture sector, used the opportunity to address participants on the use of ICT and basic phones in improving farmers’ income and livelihood.
In a presentation, participants were introduced to various products, including, market alerts, farmers’ helplines, SMS broadcasts and SMS polling, customised to suit farmers.
The General Manager of the Ghana News Agency, Dr. Bernard Otabil, who was also the chairperson of the event, announced the first ever agriculture commodity price index generated through the combined activities of Esoko and GNA.
He added that, there were real success stories in terms of how the prices provided had helped farmers to improve their livelihood.
Speaking on the role of competence-based training (CBT) in agricultural development and effective marketing and distribution systems as catalysts to achieving food security, Dr. Fenton Sands said, Ghana was chosen to be a major part of the food security programme because of the great potential the country had to remain generally food secure and to stabilise food in the region.
Source: ISD (Linda Okyere &Naa Palm)