Kumasi, The Agency for Health and Food Security Programme (AHEP), has called for the creation of a zero-interest financial mechanism, that would fund Small/Medium Agribusiness, to accelerate its star programmes intended to boost the country’s macro-economy and food security.
It is important to note that it is not profitable for businesses particularly those operating in our climate-risky agriculture environment, to work with the kind of interest rates that our financial policy and banks charge, it said.
A statement issued to the GNA and signed by Mr Kwaku Asante, Executive Director of AHEP, said the high interest rates of 20-35 per cent, would be a huge disincentive to the growth of the sector threatened by climatic and environmental variables, such as erratic rainfall patterns, soil fertility challenges and pest attacks among other things.
It said the high interest charges might scale up the prices of the food value chain- a situation which would not make Ghanaian food produce withstand the competition on the African and global food market.
The statement said countries like Denmark, Japan and United States, working with interest rates as low as 4.5 per cent, would tend to produce high quality commodities at reduced prices, due to their very minimal cost of capital.
It said whereas all our neighboring countries and most of Africa operate businesses with a rate around 4.5 per cent, Ghana’s interest rates are just too extreme ranging from 20 per cent to 35 per cent. Consequently, producers in Non-Ghanaian economies are able to deliver high quality products at very minimal cost of capital.
The statement said the special fund should also be sustained until such a time the country would be able to produce food abundant enough to feed the populace and also export substantial proportions, to earn some foreign exchange for the country.
This way, the agriculture sector can guarantee the achievement of SDG 2, create jobs, end poverty, promote health, reduce inequality and accelerate the achievement of SDGs and AU Agenda 2063, it said.
The statement applauded government for acknowledging the need to revamp agriculture in the country and for taking the right steps to actualize the campaign promises within the framework of Planting for Food and Jobs, 1D1F and Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) programmes.
We also commend the support of development partners particularly the Canadian Government of Can$135million towards providing technical and logistical support to boost crop and livestock production in the country, it said.
In a related development, AHEP called on the government to partner with the SDG 2 Platform to develop a national work plan for all the targets under the SDG 2, as the current agriculture sector programs and polices do not speak directly to most of the SDG 2 targets and indicators.
It said this made monitoring and national reporting on SDG 2 difficult and unfeasible.
Source: Ghana News Agency