¬ Duties on agro-processing equipment and machinery to be removed
¬ Massive road construction and irrigation in food basket areas
¬ Pension scheme for cocoa farmers, et al
Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has said government will use the 2018 budget, scheduled to be presented to Parliament in a month’s time, to support an ambitious agriculture transformation agenda.
The Vice President said the Marshall Plan for Agriculture will build on successes of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative, one of government’s flagship policies launched earlier this year.
The Vice President made the announcement at the Agribusiness Investment Forum in Accra, jointly organised by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and USAID-FinGAP Agric.
“Coming into office under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, we were convinced that for the agricultural sector to really take off government must take leadership and also send the right signals to investors that it is ready to put its money where its policy priorities are,” he stated.
The Marshall Plan for Agriculture (MPA), which will be unveiled in next year’s budget, will focus on ramping-up investments under the flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy, channeling investments into improved seeds, subsidised fertiliser, and storage among others.
Another key feature of the MPA will be the removal of duties on agro-processing manufacturing equipment and machinery, as well as the implementation of a grant funding facility for agribusiness start-ups.
Dr. Bawumia also stated the Marshall Plan has already identified some key road projects that will be constructed in selected food basket areas across the country. Apart from roads, selected food basket areas like the Afram Plains will have a comprehensive irrigation scheme. “We are talking about de-risking the agriculture and agribusiness sector through a sustainable Agriculture Financing Scheme and Crop Insurance Scheme. We will also establish a Pensions Scheme for Cocoa Farmers,” the Vice President said.
Dr. Bawumia added that, “Implementing the Marshall Plan for Agriculture will lead to structural transformation which, in turn, will catalyse economic activities and connect major sectors in the Ghanaian economy. It will lead to higher farmer incomes, value addition, jobs and the opportunities that come with being globally competitive.”
The Marshall Plan for Agriculture will also create the conditions necessary for attracting private capital, local and international, into large-scale commercial agriculture and agribusinesses, he added.
A trillion-dollar food basket
The World Bank’s “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness” report projects that Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to capital, electric power, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.
According to Dr. Bawumia, the Marshall Plan for Agriculture is the Akufo-Addo government’s response to the question of what the country needs to do to take advantage of these upside potentials and be a part of the opportunities for lasting transformational structural change in the sector.
“Our answer to this is anchored in the overarching development strategy of this government. At the heart of the economic transformation plan of this government is a strategy of Inclusiveness,” he said.
“In essence, we want a transformation of our economy that positively impacts the majority of our people, particularly the majority that has been excluded and ‘left behind’ over the years, as a result of structural deficiencies in our developmental trajectory.”