Government should use data to drive Agriculture sector development

By Francis Ntow

Accra, Dec 4, GNA – The Government has been called on to use data as a guide in the drafting and implementation of agriculture policies to bring about the needed development and impact on the livelihoods of Ghanaians.  

This comes as policy advocates and researchers argue that policies in the Agric sector spearheaded by the Government lacked the needed evidence-based information.  

Dr Fred Dzanku, the Coordinator for the Data Repository and Advocacy for Policy (DARAP) project, said data was important for decision-making, adding that without data there could not be any proper planning.  

He said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a stakeholder engagement on how data could be used to drive development in Ghana’s agriculture sector, in Accra.  

He said: “If you implement policies that are based on research, those policies are most likely to be impactful,” and called for a stronger linkage between research, policy and implementation to drive Ghana’s agriculture development.  

“Agriculture is perhaps the single most important sector that we think that, if we’re focused on, can drive our economic transformation and be able to dampen our inflationary pressures.” Dr Dzanku, added.  

The forum, which brought together researchers, civil society actors and policymakers, also discussed the use of science communication for policy through a data repository and advocacy system.  

He called for the need to address the gap that existed in the way scientists and researchers communicated their findings to end users particularly, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to engender policy influence in the sector. 

Dr Gertrude Dzifa Torvikey, a Researcher with ISSER, heightened the call for Ghana to have a structural change in its agriculture policies to help address the inflationary pressures and economic challenges the country often faced.  

She said though the sector was still the top employer, its contribution to the national employment and economic growth in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), had been declining since the 1960s, mainly due to its input-driven nature.  

Citing the Planting for Food and Jobs as an example, Dr Torvikey, noted that the Government had given 60.1 per cent to fertilizer, 20 per cent, seeds, with extension services having 9.6 per cent, while 1.3 per cent goes into marketing.  

She said: “We have focused more on fertilizers, which are import driven. What it means is that we spend a chunk of our budget importing these fertilizers, so, our monies do not remain in the country.”  

She, therefore, called for a stronger collaboration between the Government and stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to drive investment into the distribution, storage and processing sectors.  

Dr Kofi Asante, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), also bemoaned the political economy of the agri-food systems in Ghana that had not supported smallholder farmers enough.  

He said though smallholder farmers dominated the sector, they continued to face constraints to upscale due to the low use of improved inputs and mechanisation, and called for an integrated system, backed by evidence to inform policy implementation.”