DON’T DERAIL THE PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS

We are convinced that the government’s agricultural flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) can contribute enormously in putting back on track our economy: It is designed to ensure food sufficiency in the country, boost agro-processing through value addition, create jobs in the agriculture value chain and ensure enough grains for the export market for the much needed foreign currency.

We are, however, disturbed about the reports of default in the payment of the inputs supplied to the beneficiary farmers by the government under the programme.

We have had experiences in the past when farmers consumed the seeds due to hunger. But this programme has come to their aid with improved seeds.

It is worrying therefore, that only 59 per cent financial support to the farmers in the Nawdoli-Kaleo District in the Upper West Region has been recovered from the farmers. Although 60 per cent recovery rate is better than “no recovery,” we still expected 100 per cent recovery rate so that more farmers would be enrolled for the coming crop season.

We call for effective collaboration between stakeholders for effective implementation of the programme for the mutual benefit, of all, particular in terms of recovery of financial support to farmers in order not to collapse the rather laudable initiative.

We have taken this position because similar projects and programmes by past governments, though laudable, had failed to make the desired impact due mainly to the fact that financial support under such projects and programmes were thought to be “thank you gift” for votes during the elections which brought the government that initiated the programme to power.

Unless we change our attitude toward government assisted projects, we would continue to wallow in perpetual poverty and blame the government needlessly.

We very much share in the concerns expressed by the Nadowli-Kaleo District Chief Executive, Katherine Lankono, over the low recovery rate of the financial support to the beneficiary farmers, and urge the defaulting farmers to endeavour to comply with the repayment scheduled plan.

When that is done it would motivate the government to add more resources and expand the programme to cover more beneficiary groups.

The Ghanaian Times urges the beneficiary farmers to see the financial support as a revolving fund which is their lifeline out of poverty.

Indeed, poverty levels in the north are high and the beneficiary groups should not kill the hen that lays the golden egg; the revolving fund must be seen as the hen that would lay the golden egg to take them off poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

We would want to suggest a stronger public-private-partnership in the financial support component of the programme for effective monitoring and compliance with the repayment schedule.

We are sure we have all learnt useful lessons from past that “freebies government social intervention” did not make the desired impact because of “revolving loan default” but we must guard fervently and protect PFJ so that similar fate would not befall it. We must all support the programme to succeed; it is in our own interest!

 

 

 

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