Tree Crops Dev’t Authority not necessary – Chamber of Agribusiness tells gov’t

There is no need for a crop authority. Ghana just needs an agriculture regulatory authority and put all other government quangos underneath and get the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to concentrate on policy formulation and policy implementation like the Ministry of Energy is doing now, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness Anthony Morrison has said on the Farmer’s Day edition of 3FM’s Community Connect.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had earlier in September inaugurated the Tree Crops Development Authority with a focus to develop seven tree crops, namely mango, cashew, shea, rubber, cocoa, palm and coffee and the consequential benefits to be accrued to the country.

The Authority, which operates like COCOBOD, and puts in place policies and programmes to guide research, production, pricing and marketing the selected tree crops.

However, according to Mr. Morrison, the multiplicity of these authorities have only brought power play into the sector and is “now dissipating the front of farmers from being strong and robust”.

He maintained that with a good measure of internally generated funds flowing in, what Ghana needs to do is to develop a comprehensive national policy on agriculture that will serve as a blue print.

He is of the view that “the blue print must be focused with technology adoption; where the financier understands the blue print. What is our model? We don’t have it? So, there is no actual blue print out there and the National Development Planning Commission should be involving the private sector to understand what the blue print is all about for the agricultural sector”.

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He bemoaned the abundance of obsolete data and the absence of data in some cases, and called for a centralized, robust and timely data system to be created to improve policy formulation and implementation.

“What informs us? When you look at most of the proposals that we put out there, some of the data are as far back as 1997, 1983, 1973, and 1973 data. Data as old as 10 years when other countries are using data that is as new as 3 months, 6 months or 12 months,” he lamented.

He called for cross-sectorial collaborations, capacity building, strategy, advocacy and deep intelligent system to boost the gains in the sector, while encouraging duty bearers to work towards establishing a national seed bank.

“For me, it is about the seed economy. Do we have control of what we plant? If we don’t, then what we eat, you do not have control over.”

The recently released 2017/2018 census on agriculture revealed that about 87 of agricultural holders have either basic education or no formal education.

This, according to the Ghana Statistical Service precludes them from appreciating technology required to drive a productive agricultural sector.

But reacting to the agric census results, the Agribusiness Chamber boss said “the worst is that, that over 80 percent are above the age of 65 and that puts Ghana in a very serious problem in the next two to three years”.

“That’s not even my worry. My worry is that, there are fewer youth in agriculture today and the people producing for this country today, are above the age of sixty five. Look at all our national best farmers, how many of them fall below the age of fifty or forty? That should tell you the situation. I am telling you, food security will be a problem.

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“Over 80 percent of agriculture belongs to foreigners in this country. Are you aware?” a worried Morrison asked.

“Going into a year of AfCFTA where we begin to look at whether or not we are on the global stage or we are still far away from where a lot of the countries are. This is the time to look at it.”