26 Oct 2015

Agriculture: A Solution To Extreme Poverty

It has always been said that about 70% of people in Northern Ghana are engaged in farming one way or the other. Most policy makers know this fact. They also know the impact it can make at minimizing rural poverty and reverting rural-urban migration. The problem, however, is the lack of willingness to take steps to ensure its viability in this area.
Agriculture
Image Courtesy of The World Bank



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We have a system of governance where budgets are drawn just for people working in a ministry. Nothing tangible is done to support struggling subsistence farmers. Governments often boast about fertilizer subsidies. What they may not know (or pretend not to know) is that such subsidized fertilizers don't often reach the targeted beneficiaries. Some of those entrusted with the sole duty of distributing fertilizers either sell them to make cash for themselves or discriminate in their distribution based on political party lines.

Many people who should know better are not willing to use their knowledge to bring the needed positive change to the situation of northern Ghana. They are busy grabbing whatever they can lay hands on, including government approved funds designated for key projects!

A case in point is the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority's (SADA) allocation whose funds were grossly misapplied and no tangible project has been completed. These were funds entrusted into the hands of people of northern Ghana extraction who were supposed to have known and seen the state of abject poverty in the area better. Up to date, the joke still remains that some of the guinea fowls that were being reared as part of the authority's projects have flown to Burkina Faso and remained there.

If we are really serious about developing agriculture, we should make it attractive in the first place by providing the basic resources needed for commercial farming. Farming machinery should be readily available at affordable prices for hiring to farmers. Fertilizers should be subsidized and made sure they reach the intended beneficiaries and not party henchmen. Over-reliance on natural rain should be revised.

Artificial rain should be possible if natural rain stops. We have an agrarian economy and must be able to invest in new technology if it would improve our economic figures and reduce food scarcity. An all year round farming season can be possible with dams and land for irrigation farming.

Last but not least, there should be ready market for farm produce all year round. With all or 80% of these in place, many youth will gladly go into farming and those already in it will expand and make better yields. In the end, poverty will be forced back into its hole.

What do you think about agriculture's role in ending extreme poverty in Africa?

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