Govt urged to allocate more oil cash to agric

Seth TerkperThe government has been urged to increase the oil revenue allocation to the agriculture sector, since it has greater redistributive effect.

Dr. Amin Anta Mohammed, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy,   who made the call at a multi-stakeholders forum on Spending Strategy of Oil Revenue in Ghana, said empirical research had shown that agricultural investment had greater redistributive effect.

The forum was organised by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy  and the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) to  account to stakeholders on an advocacy programme it carried out last year with their support on the topic:  “Oil for Agric Campaign”.

He said increased investment in smallholder agriculture could accelerate poverty reduction as majority of citizens lived in rural agrarian communities.

“It is very important to increase the revenue of oil pumped into the agriculture sector to help promote oil based agriculture led development as a model in Africa. Empirically, agriculture contributes faster to poverty reduction than industrial investments. Agricultural spending has wider redistributive effect.”

He said oil-producing countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Chile, invested much of their oil revenue in agriculture, which helped to reduce poverty and accelerate development.

He cited, for instance, that Indonesia used its oil rents to supply fertilizer to farmers, and develop new crops, building the basis for the country’s green revolution, and also invested heavily in agricultural research,  to identify new commodities that helped improve on its export potentials.

The Executive Director said research showed that at the national level, agricultural public expenditures had its highest returns in terms of agricultural productivity, and lamented that in spite of the potential of the sector to contribute to the country’s development, there continued to exist a wide funding gap in public expenditure.

He said if Ghana was to become a full middle-income country by 2015,  and experience a decline in poverty rates of almost 70 per cent, then the share of agricultural expenditure in public spending would have to almost double from the current 8.5 to 14.1 per cent

Stakeholders at the forum included civil society organisations, government departments, and youth activists and opinion leaders.

Mr. Bismark Ayorogo Adongo , president of NORPRA,  stated that the Northern,  Upper East and Upper West regions, had huge agriculture potentials,    and given the needed attention, they  could help reduce poverty in the area.

– GNA.

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