Commercial banks do not support the agricultural campaign — Dr Akoto

The efforts made by the government to boost the agricultural industry in the country did not yield the expected results as the commercial banks did not play the expected role in providing substantial loans to the farmers.

Agriculture Minister Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto said that although the government is doing its best to boost food production by subsidizing the prices of agricultural inputs, such as chemicals, banks have not granted enough loans to complete this effort.

This, according to the minister, had made the prices of foodstuffs and other agricultural products high in the market.

Therefore, the government will soon ask parliament to propose legislation requiring commercial banks in the country to allocate 20% of their loan portfolio to farmers, he said.

Dr Akoto gave the hint when he traveled to some parts of the Eastern Region to interact with farmers to find out the challenges they faced and if there had been a shortage of foodstuffs in these regions.

Round

The minister was accompanied by his deputy, Yaw Frimpong Addo, senior ministry officials and regional and district directors of agriculture on the tour.

The delegation visited, among other facilities, the Legacy Seed Processing Company in Otareso, near Koforidua, where seeds are stored, processed and processed; Idros Farms in Kwame Duodu; the Pinora Zonal Enterprise near Adeiso, which produces fruit juices for export only, and TQ Farms, Akim Krodua near Asamankese, producers of cereals, cassava and coconuts.

They also visited Sahmen Farms in Mepom near Asamankese, which produces hybrid coconut seedlings, as well as coconut fruit and poultry products.

Legislation

Dr Akoto said that to address the issue of financial challenges faced by farmers, legislation was being sought to compel commercial banks to extend at least 20% of their loan portfolio to farmers.

This, he said, would boost food production and at the same time make food prices affordable for Ghanaians.

The Minister, who spoke passionately about the issue, pointed out that in India, for example, for the past 30 years, it was mandatory for banks to allocate a certain amount of their loans to farmers to support the agriculture in this country.

“What we need to do as a country is force commercial banks, through legislation, to allocate resources to support farmers and agriculture as a whole,” he said.

The economy will suffer

The minister pointed out that if this is not done, agriculture, which is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy, will continue to suffer, adding that the ministry is not a financial institution but a political institution.

Dr Akoto, who said there was no shortage of agricultural products in the country, however pointed out that food prices had risen.

He attributed the high cost of food to the high cost of inputs, such as chemicals, poultry feed and rising fuel prices, which had also affected the transportation of food from farms to shopping malls.

He explained that the factors that led to the rise in food prices were beyond the control of the government, which was doing its best to ensure that the prices would be affordable for the ordinary Ghanaian.

“This situation can be reversed if banks start providing loans to farmers, as most farmers, especially poultry farmers who normally produce up to 150,000 birds, have now drastically reduced their numbers due to lack of funds” , said the Minister.

Regarding the global shortage of fertilizers, the Minister said that farmers in Ghana are now resorting to the application of organic fertilizers which has helped to remedy such a situation.

At Idros Farms, owner Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, who was the National Top Farmer in 2021, told the Daily Graphic that his team was setting up a food processing plant for the area, in line with government policy One- District, One -Plant Initiative, explaining that he had vast land for this purpose.

Seed Actors

Earlier, a meeting involving regional and district agricultural managers, agricultural extension officers, seed growers and input seed dealers was held at the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, where a presentation was given. made by the regional director of agriculture, Henry Crentsil.

Mr. Crentsil revealed that there had been an increase in food production this year, adding that the government’s JPJ had contributed immensely to the success of this year.

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