A US$113million Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) to promote and scale-up agricultural value chains in the country has been launched in Tamale.
The six-year project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – a United Nations Specialised Agency – and implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is aimed at supporting infrastructure development, technology transfer, conservation farming and research to ensure the production of quality food crops to meet demands of the market.
It is also geared toward providing a framework and institutional basis for a long-term engagement and supplementary financing for scaling-up investment in private sector-led pro-poor agricultural value chain development, as well as linking up smallholder farmers to agribusinesses to enhance growth.
It is expected that GASIP will help contribute to the realisation of Ghana’s medium-term agricultural sector investment (METASIP) and help about 12,000 rural households, particularly women and young people, to improve their economic activities and livelihoods.
Speaking at the Northern Regional launch and sensitisation forum on GASIP in Tamale, Alhaji Mohammed Limuna Muniru, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, reiterated the commitment of government to provide modern equipment, technologies, improved crop varieties and other support systems that will enhance activities in the agricultural sector.
The sector minister also toured the various rice and livestock industries in the region to ascertain the progress and challenges confronting players.
He said government has imported some tractors, accessories and combine-harvesters to support farmers; adding that fertiliser has been subsidised to make it more affordable and accessible.
He said the ministry will implement GASIP to promote a standard-setting approach that will drive its policy to enhance the economy.
According to Alhaji Limuna, GASIP was designed differently from past projects wherein supply-driven projects such as roads, irrigation schemes and warehouses were pre-determined at the design stage — which resulted in several “white elephants” because the project designers assumed they knew what the people wanted.
He said a publication will be made to call for proposals for value chain actors to submit business plans that would attract funds to implement their projects.
“GASIP will then evaluate these proposals to see how these businesses, if supported, will ultimately increase the incomes of smallholder farmers – especially the rural poor,” he added.
“On access to finance, the minister said the ministry is working with the Bank of Ghana to introduce a scheme where crop failure due to climate would benefit from the scheme,” he said.
The sector minister noted that one of the priority areas of this ministry under the project is to attract more youth and women into agriculture, adding that “we are finding ways to make agriculture attractive to the youth while ensuring gender-sensitivity in our interventions and policies”.
Mr. Roy Ayariga, National Programme Coordinator of GASIP, said the project’s aim is to make smallholder farmers produce to meet international standards, and also to increase their yields.
He said the project will benefit about 40,000 farmers across the country, and was meant to address challenges farmers encounter in the sector — such as tractors, bad roads, lack of warehouses, post-harvest losses and lack of access to market.
He noted that the project will support the construction of road networks, warehouses, farm inputs, matching grants in the form of subsidy financing for the purchase of agricultural machinery and equipment, irrigation schemes, and access to finances through linkages to financial institutions.