The government has been asked to review the mandate of the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund (EDAIF) to make it more useful to small-scale holder farmers to improve productivity.
Professor Joseph Yaro, of the Department of Geography and Resources Development of the University of Ghana, who made call said the bureaucracy embedded in operations of the fund were “unfriendly to small holder farmers.”
He said although farmers interviewed during the research lauded the establishment of the fund for being flexible and not demanding any collateral, they complained about bureaucracy in accessing the facility.
Prof Yaro was disseminating the research findings on the operations of the EDAIF and small scale farmers’ access to credit at a validation workshop in Accra on Tuesday.
The qualitative research was carried out between February and May, through focus group discussions with farmers in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Northern Regions, and in-depth interviews with other stakeholders.
It was at the initiative of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), in collaboration with civil society partners in the OXFAM -GROW Campaign.
The EDAIF, an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industries, was established in October 2000 by Act 582 as Export Development and Investment Fund, but later amended to include the provision of financial resources to facilitate the development and promotion of agricultural related activities.
An estimated amount of GH¢199.3 billion has so far been disbursed to beneficiary farmer groupings since the establishment of the fund.
Prof Yaro said the EDAIF “is still carrying its language of export oriented crops as enshrined in the policy document” adding that its initial mandate limited its usefulness to small holder farmers.
He said poor disbursement from the banks, bureaucracy and the paper work delayed access to the facility, saying, “it is useless to give farmers money when they do not need it because they receive the money when the season has passed.”
The researcher said farmers also complained of poor quality of inputs supplied them under the facility as well as poor knowledge base of service providers adding, “this defeats the purpose of the facility.”
Prof Yaro expressed the need to design future funding facilities based on the best practices that were suitable for the peasant farmers, rather than from classroom experience.
The President of PFAG, Abdul-Rahaman Mohammad, appealed to the government to release funds for the fertiliser subsidy programme saying “we have still not received the subsidised fertiliser in most of the farming districts as the farming season is already in progress.”
He said access to credit by farmers, especially for small holders, was a serious challenge because of the high cost of inputs.
The PFAG president said, the cost of ploughing an acre of land in the north of the country was between GH¢70 and GH¢100 while the cost of compound fertiliser was between GH¢125 and GH¢135 at the open market, excluding cost of labour, seeds, and weedicide.
Mr Mohammad appealed to the government to decentralise the work of the EDAIF to make “it easier for those in the rural communities to also benefit.”
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman