The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has urged banks and other financial institutions in the country to support farmers with loans or credits, to boost the agriculture value chain, sustain their jobs and improve the economy.
He noted that some banks and financial institutions had failed to give loans to farmers and those in the agriculture value chain, resulting in low production in the wake of economic challenges facing many countries.
Dr Akoto, made the call at a durbar, organized by Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), for its regional and district offices, farmers and stakeholders in the agriculture value chain. It formed part of his tour of the region to gain first-hand insight into issues concerning food shortage and high prices of farm produce.
He noted that “Some banks and other financial institutions have refused to lend to agriculture, but will rather give to other businesses.”
Dr Akoto appealed to “the banks give farm credits and lend part of their portfolio to farmers and those in the agriculture value chain so that we can sustain the agricultural economy and the country’s economy as a whole”.
He said: “The government is doing its best to subsidise agriculture inputs, and I plead with the banks to also perform their roles to help sustain agriculture in the country.”
The minister, who was accompanied by the deputy of minister of Food and Agriculture, Yaw FrimpongAddo, and officials of MoFA, visited the Legacy Crop Improvement Centre, at Otareso in the Akuapem North Municipality, where grain seeds were stored and improved for farmers andIbross Farms, at Kwame Duodu, in the West Akim Municipality.
They also visited Pinora Ghana Limited at Asamankese, producers of fruit juices, Sahmens Farms at Adeiso in the Upper West Akim, producers of hybrid coconut seedlings as well as other poultry products, and TQ Farms at Akim Krodua near Asamankese.
Dr Akoto noted that although the government had over the years made efforts to persuade the banks and financial institutions to support to farmers, they had failed.
In a bid to address such challenge, he said the President invited the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana and heads of financial institutions to deliberate on ways to persuade banks to offer low-interest loans to farmers.
He said as part of efforts to persuade the banks, his outfit would soon put a bill before Parliament, which on approval, would persuade the commercial banks to lend a portion of their portfolio to farmers and those in the value chain.
The minister said the bill would also seek the setting up of a Grains Development Authority, to ensure grains were stored in the warehouses for distribution in dry season.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA