A study carried out to assess the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme (PFJ) has recommended the engagement of private sector agents to take full charge of the distribution and sale of the inputs, while the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) supervises them.
This is to curb interference from politicians, which the study identified was among five main implementation challenges bedevilling the PFJ, a flagship agricultural programme of the government to improve productivity, achieve food security and ensure higher income for farmers.
This came to light during the 2018 Agriculture Policy Research Summit (APS) in Accra last Thursday, organised by the Feed the Future (FtF) Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP).
A member of the research team, Mr Gideon Danso-Abbeam, who disclosed this, said the study also identified other challenges as inadequate and untimely supply of inputs (especially fertiliser and seeds), the cumbersome mode of payments for inputs, inadequate education and information about the packages under the pillars of the PFJ and the lack of support from some MoFA offices and district assemblies.
Mr Danso-Abbeam stressed the need for adequate inputs to be supplied in time to farmers and that they should be differentiated based on the agro-ecological zone.
He said awareness of the programme should be increased through the local languages, to spell out the details of the programme, with information to farmers on how and where they could access each of the interventions.
The PFJ initiative
Launched in April 2017, the PFJ was implemented to facilitate farmers’ access to subsidised agricultural inputs based on five pillars, namely improved seeds, fertilisers, dedicated extension services, marketing and e-agriculture.
The initial implementation focused on five main crops: maize, rice, soya bean, sorghum and vegetables (tomato, onion and pepper).
Objectives of the study
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the APSP in 2013 to increase local capacity to use research results to implement evidence-based policy formulation and implementation, and to improve the environment for private sector investment.
It instituted the assessment on the PFJ programme and another on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in the agricultural sector, in partnership with MoFA and academics from some Ghanaian universities, to assess the awareness of the packages of the pillars of the PFJ, identify and assess challenges associated with implementation, as well as evaluate their potential and suggest ways for improvement.
The study area for the research covered three districts each in the Northern, Volta and Brong Ahafo regions.
Maximising agric potential
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Sagre Bambangi, said it was important to coordinate better and harness all resources, including intellectual research capacity, to drive transformation of the agric sector for inclusive development.
“The government cannot do it alone. The success of the agric policy will require deliberate efforts by the government working with private businesses to formulate and implement policies that will remove binding constraints,” he stated.
The Chief of Party, APSP, Mr Walter Nunez-Rodriguez, said that the project was nearing its conclusion after more than four years of collaborating with Ghana to strengthen the agricultural policy process.
“As a technical project working on agricultural policies, we believe that the PFJ is a bold and encouraging initiative since it offers multiple and effective windows of opportunity to increase agricultural productivity in Ghana, strengthen the coordination between the central government, the regions and the districts and fundamentally motivate the private sector and agricultural producers to increase their investments,” Mr Nunez-Rodriguez added.