Tuesday, 26 May 2015

QUESTIONS ON MY MIND THIS MORNING I was also wondering about the cultivation and export of cassava chips. Wondering if its still a high priced commodity as it used to be back in the day. Do you know of any form of assistance offered to agri-business and how one can access it? Do you also know how to go into Nutmeg cultivation and would be glad to get some information on persons already into its cultivation. THis is what is trending on my pages and people are asking. I ask you guys to broaden your horizon on and think about questions that people will be interested in asking. Is there an Agric information bureau in Ghana? Do you guys know how to get information on Agric in Ghana?

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Agric extension policy framework under review

Very well spoken by the Director of Agric. My question is why the decentralization system of the MOFA has not been effective so far. People are afraid to take decisions because of too much power given to people in authority who also do not take the decisions. Each time someone has to take a decision they have to cross-check or you have to write a letter or proposal before you are given the green light. So many students are sitting at home who can be used to support extension work. We need to be bold as a country and solve the problems in the field not at workshops. Too much talking and very little action. What is being done should be visible and understood by all. Most of all by the farmers who are actually going about their everyday livelihoods......FARMING. They need the support not the talk. There are so many young people losing interest in farming because it is just too much work even trying to get land to start a farm. Too much work trying to get financing to start a farm.. what is all the plenty talk about. Dr. Kwame Amezah, Director, Directorate Agriculture Extension Services (DAES), has observed that considering the current decentralisation system of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), steps must be taken and all efforts harnessed to ensure efficient coordination at all levels and ensure effectiveness and sustainability. “It is therefore believed that if local governments take responsibility for extension, as they are closest to the grassroots, farmers’ needs could be better met. This is on the basis that extension staff are localised, conversant with farmers’ needs, and will be able to facilitate extension activities more effectively.” Dr. Amezah, who read the keynote address on behalf of the Chief Director of MOFA, Mr. Joseph Boamah, at a two-day Agriculture Extension Policy Forum this week in Accra, said DAES has played significant roles through various initiatives such as Training and Visits (T&V), Participatory Technology Development and extension (PTD&E) and Farmer Field Schools among others, in empowering farmers to carry out their farming activities in a more effective, business-like and sustainable manner. He said the subsistence nature of most Ghanaian and African farming, and the cost of extension services, leads to a much stronger case for state intervention in support of food production. He stated that the need for a well-articulated and comprehensive Agricultural Extension Policy cannot be glossed over. “It is the bedrock on which the development and advancement of the agricultural extension can be well defined, approaches and functions well spelt-out; and the importance of such a policy is further buttressed by a statement made by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO) Consultation on Agricultural Extension (GCAE) held in Rome in December 1989, where it was recommended that all national governments should develop and periodically review their agricultural extension policy.” Amezah noted that issues such as geographical coverage, target beneficiaries, staffing, funding and sustainability will be easy to examine and address if such a framework exists. He however added that global and regional experiences suggest that extension services are demand-based and market-driven, incorporating private sector as well as government and non-governmental resources. The forum was a collaboration of MOFA, the Modernising Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) Project and the USAID/Ghana Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP), and was aimed at creating a platform for stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors to come together and share experiences and expertise toward making efforts at improving agricultural extension delivery in the country. MEAS is operated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States of America, with funding from the USAID. The MEAS project has been approved for a multi-part work-plan to work toward strengthening extension and advisory services for farmers in northern Ghana. APSP aims to increase capacity for the Government of Ghana, the private sector and civil society organisations to implement evidence-based policy formation, implementation, research and advocacy; and perform rigorous monitoring and evaluation of agricultural programmes implemented under the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP). Dr. Paul McNamara, Director of MEAS, said before the break-up session that policy is central to extension and that MEAS has been working to strengthen agriculture extension services over the past five years in the country, and is consequently interested in the policy framework for extension services.

Govts should invest more in Agriculture

This story below is culled from the DAILY SABAH. The story intrigues me because one can liken the same situation in a lot of African countries where Govts always seem to exaggerate what is happening or specifically their achievements in the Agric sector. They do not invest much and yet expect a lot. They use all the wrong or outmoded policies yet expect it to work. Subsidies that must go out to help farmers are usually not given because donors say so and where they are, they are either provided very late or at the wrong time. I see from the statistics provided that TURKEY IS EVEN DOING MUCH BETTER THAN MOST AFRICAN COUNTRIES AND AT LEAST THEY HAVE DATA THAT IS READILY AVAILABLE. Food production really should be one of the main concerns of any Govt and leaving it to chance cannot be the way to food security. I was invited recently to a forum and the minister of Agric walked in and didn't even look at products that Ghanaians had displayed....He was rather interested in the foreign products of the other country. Agriculture should really be left for farmers, the experts, researchers etc. and not politicians Although officials have been talking about a major leap forward in agricultural production in Turkey since the ruling party first came to power, the recent plummeting of food prices indicates that the country's agriculture is besieged by many problems. Mehdi Eker, minister of food, agriculture and animal husbandry, recently boasted that Turkey ranks seventh in the world in terms of agricultural production, but the picture is not as rosy as the minister would have us believe. A recent statement by a leading representative of the agricultural sector reveals that the government must change its agricultural policy. In the statement, released at the beginning of the past week, the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (ZMO) said: “As a result of agricultural policies that the [ruling] AK Party [Justice and Development Party] government has persistently sustained in accordance with [norms set by] global powers, our farmlands have shrunk by around 2.7 million hectares over the last 10 years. The amount of land that our farmers have given up to cultivate is about the size of the European country of Belgium.” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu boasted at a meeting of the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) last weekend that Turkey is Europe's biggest agricultural producer, with the revenue from its agricultural production last year having reached $61.3 billion. Eker pointed out, in a May 14 statement issued on the occasion of World Farmers' Day, that the government would give farmers a total of TL 10 billion ($3.8 billion) in subsidies this year. But the government has been much criticized by the opposition, which says that if the subsidies offered to farmers had been sufficient, they would not have stopped cultivating a significant portion of the country's land. The agricultural subsidies provided by the government to farmers amounts to about one-half of 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), but it should really be as high as 1 percent, according to a law on agriculture introduced in 2007. “The subsidies provided to agriculture in 2014 should have [actually] been TL 17 billion. You are entitled to bigger [subsidies],” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told farmers' representatives at last weekend's TZOB meeting. He suggested that the farmers would win their case if they were to take the issue to court, underlining that the financial aid transferred in subsidies to the sector is well below what it should be. The country's agricultural exports, valued at around $4 billion in 2002 when the ruling AK Party came to power, increased to $18 billion last year. Minister Eker also stressed in his statement that Turkey has become a net exporter of food, but the country's imports in agriculture have also skyrocketed. According to the CHP leader, who said farmers were paid TL 9 million ($3.5 billion) in subsidies in 2014, Turkey paid TL 350 billion ($135 billion) in imports in food and agricultural products. Noting that Turkey last year paid TL 44 billion ($17 billion) for imports in food and agricultural products, the CHP leader said at the meeting: “This is exactly five times higher than the subsidies [for 2014]. If Turkey had been governed intelligently, this picture would be in reverse.” “If they [the government] had paid half this amount to farmers [in subsidies], I assure you that we could have raised enough food to sustain not only Turkey but also the Middles East,” the CHP leader explained. The yearly cost of Turkey's agricultural imports has risen more than four times since the AK Party came to power in 2002, suggesting that the country's performance with regard to self-sufficiency in agricultural production is on the decline. While the amount of money Turkey paid for imported agricultural products was $1.69 billion during 2002, it totaled $8.62 billion between April 2014 and March 2015, rising by a dramatic 409 percent. Turkey's imports in food products last year reached more than $5.6 billion, Şemsi Kopuz, the president of the Federation of Food and Drink Industry Associations of Turkey (TGDF), said at a press meeting last month. According to official data, Turkey imported agricultural products from 153 countries in 2014. Bahrain, Belize, Cambodia, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Iceland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Surinam, Venezuela and Zambia are among the countries which have been added as import partners of Turkey for agricultural products over the years. The sharp hike in recent months in the prices of certain food products, which is not surprising given that farmers have given up farming a sizable portion of land in the past 10 years, also indicates problems waiting to be resolved in agriculture. Unusually high potato prices -- as much as TL 5 ($1.9) a kilogram -- have made the news at various times in Turkey this year. The government pins the blame on speculators, vowing that it would fight against the stockpiling of food. Potato prices have as much as tripled since last year. Stockpiling is generally conducted by middlemen who withhold large quantities of produce, only to release it on the market when prices increase. The opposition also indicates that the share of agriculture in national product has diminished by half since the ruling party came to power.

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