‘I’ll Compel Banks To Increase Lending To Farmers’

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto


One of the lessons Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto learned in his six years as Minister of Agriculture is that farmers at all levels found, and still find, it difficult to access credit.

He has, therefore, pledged that if, as NPP flagbearer, he is voted as President of Ghana, his priority will be the enactment of a law requiring all commercial banks to increase loanable funds to agriculture and its value chains, saying, “The investments needed to achieve sustainable food systems will be non-negotiable!”

The presidential hopeful, defending his blueprint for economic revival for Ghana, was asked why his plan of salvation for the economy hinged 100% on agriculture.

He replied that agriculture, “can potentially generate substantial export earnings to fund industrial development, finance social sectors such as Health, Education, Housing, Infrastructure, Roads, amongst others as well as reduce our dependency on external sources of funds.”

To prove that agriculture can bail out the economy without borrowing from creditors, the presidential hopeful said he will set up a Tree Crop Development Authority to coordinate and promote the development of six tree crops – cashew, rubber, oil palm, coconut, mango and shea.

“These tree crops alone are capable of earning between $6 billion and $12 billion per year, enough to wean off our financial dependency on the IMF and other bilateral donors,” he stressed.

Questioned why he could not achieve these benefits in his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said “there are things a President can do which a Minister cannot do.”

To ensure that the farmers’ produce gets to the market, he said he will provide the needed supply chain logistics and expand market access through infrastructure projects such as feeder roads, rural electrification, irrigation and storage.

The media asked him what his initiative, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ achieved in the six years that he was minister. In answer, he produced records compiled by the Ghana Statistical Service which confirm that under him, the Agric Ministry procured and distributed 1.4 million metric tonnes of fertiliser and 93,192 tonnes of improved seeds which were distributed to over 1.7 million farmers from 2017 to 2021.

As much as GH¢2.6 billion was sunk into these interventions between 2017 and 2021 to 1.7 million farmers, which interventions led to increase in maize production from 1.7 million metric tonnes in 2016 to 3.6 million metric tonnes in 2021; rice from 688,000 tonnes to 1.2 tonnes and soya from 143,000 to 230,000 tonnes over the same period. In total, the value of production at the farmgate was estimated at GH¢48.5 billion.