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Investment in food and agriculture to unlock development agenda

Major stakeholders in Ghana stressed the need for comprehensive and coherent national policy framework to create an enabling environment for sustainable agribusiness development

The national dialogue held recently in Accra promoted investment in food and agriculture and deepened the understanding of the constraints and opportunities in the sector.

The dialogue, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Ghana, in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), served as a platform to discuss challenges faced by the private sector and government regarding investing in agriculture across the value chain.

Agriculture financing remains one of the most important challenges facing the sector in Africa. According to estimates, an average net annual financial investment requires US$11bn in agriculture and agro-industries to meet the projected food security demands in Africa by 2050.

Seeing agriculture as a business

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel observed that agriculture is a neglected sector in Africa in terms of allocation of resources. He also prompted participants to advocate for agriculture as a business, saying, “Engaging in commercial agriculture is a business in itself.” Haile-Gabriel further emphasised that evidence indicates that returns on investments in agriculture could be even higher than in many other sectors.

The FAO regional representative also noted that considering public pronouncements by State officials and available strategic policy documents, the government of Ghana views agriculture as a priority sector. “As a symbolic gesture to demonstrate leadership, the government should look at increasing budgetary allocation to help unlock some of the structural bottlenecks as well as leverage private investment.”

Ghana’s agricultural sector experiencing growth

A statement from Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture delivered by Collins Ntim, deputy minister for local government and rural development, stressed that the prominent position of agriculture in the Ghanaian economy with its enormous opportunities to create wealth, jobs and enhance livelihoods.

“The government continues to put in place mechanisms and instruments to truly make the private sector an engine of agricultural growth and an agent of transformation,” Ntim said, adding that continuous engagement with the private sector is needed to better understand how the incentives and enablers are stimulating investment in agriculture.

The agriculture sector has seen significant growth in recent years, and because of the increased activity, the provisional agricultural sector gross domestic product growth rate increased from 2.9 per cent in 2016 to 6.1 per cent in 2017. According to the deputy minister, the government’s flagship programme ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ injected dynamism in the agriculture sector, further creating opportunities for private sector investment throughout the agriculture value chain.