The ministry of food and agriculture is a crucial institution that promotes community and agriculture growth, poverty alleviation, and national development. The ministry is recognized as one of the institutions that employs most people and as the sector that brings in the most money from the export of agricultural goods through produce such as cocoa, etc.
The ministry is divided into various units, each of which has good policies and initiatives to support in carrying out its duties in fostering development and reducing poverty.
One of the policies I’m looking into is the Planting for Food and Jobs [PFJ], to see how good or ineffective it is at improving the lives of the poor and the development of the nation.
This essay has two sections. In the first section, it discusses how the policy has aided in human development, decreased poverty, aided struggling farmers in rural areas, and supported the poor after a year of implementation. The second section discusses how some researchers and I, believe that the policy is problematic and hasn’t done much to combat poverty.
A contentious phenomenon, human development aims to increase the richness of human life rather than only the wealth of the economy in which people live. It emphasizes giving everyone equal opportunity and choices.
According to Amaterya Sen, development is a process that increases peoples’ actual freedom.
In order to create and carry out policies and strategies for the agriculture sector within the framework of a coordinated national socio-economic growth and development agenda, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) serves as the primary agency and focal point for the Government of Ghana. Plans and programs for the ministry are created, coordinated, and put into action using frameworks for policy and strategy using a sector-wide approach. In this context, MOFA assisted in the creation of the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector and the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II).
Agriculture made up 51.51 percent of Ghana’s total employment in 2009, compared to 40.41 percent in 2014, 33.89% in 2016, 32.57% in 2017, 31.05% in 2018, and 29.75% in 2019. According to Aaron O’Neill on Statista.com
With Aaron’s statistics in mind, I wonder: Is the policy (PFJ) weak or Ghana’s youth or the populace dislike farming, or are some public servants (politicians) profiting from the program?
With significant funding and well-coordinated action from local, regional, and international partnerships like the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation (PIATA), a US$ 280 million project of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa [AGRA], the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID, they embody the principles of the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity. In the face of corruption and self-interest, is Ghana or Africa capable of achieving this?
The PFJ initiative, in its second year of operation, has registered 600,000 smallholder farmers, with a goal of reaching 1.5 million farmers by the end of 2020. Seven value chains are highlighted, including those for rice, maize, sorghum, some vegetables, soy beans, groundnuts, and cassava.
Also the livestock component, which was introduced in 2019, Rearing for Food and Jobs, and Planting for Export and Rural Development are also supported by PFJ. With the help of Israeli specialists, agricultural graduates are taught in greenhouse technology as part of the Greenhouse Village Project in order to satisfy vegetable export goals. Is Ghana actually experiencing any of this, or is it all just on paper?
With these policies, food costs in Ghana remained constant in 2017. There were no maize imports, and 700,000 jobs, many of them for young people, were created. Can Ghana make the same claim for 2019? 2020? 2021? 2022?
When most of the opportunities are given to party members who can’t provide the yielded results knowing very well that it is their party reign and their party can’t hold them accountable, how can we achieve the right result, until we shift from partisan consideration and do things in the right perspective Ghana and Africa will continue to be known as good inventors of ideas on paper but bad in implementation.
After first year of implementation, a research was conducted to access the effects of the policy on rice farmers in northern Ghana. The research, used survey data collected from beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the programme who cultivated rice in 2018 production season.
According to the findings, beneficiaries could afford to spend significantly more each month GH1, 160.71 than non-beneficiaries, who on average spent GH785.29. Additionally, beneficiaries’ average income from other occupations was significantly greater than that of non-beneficiaries by 5%, which may be due to beneficiaries having enough money to invest in other occupations, raising their incomes from other occupations.
The findings show a slight rise in rice production income levels, but a considerable fall in farm expenses, a rise in monthly spending per person, and a decline in household income poverty. The results show that the agricultural methods used in the Planting for Food and Jobs program have a favorable effect on rice productivity and the well-being of rice farmers in Northern Ghana.
The program prioritized boosting food production, guaranteeing national food security, and cutting back to the absolute minimum on food imports, particularly rice.
Other scholars, on the other hand, contend that the program has not benefited the beneficiaries or target groups and, as a result, faces many difficulties or is ineffective in advancing human development or motivating the underprivileged to lead healthier and happier lives.
Furthermore, understanding that in every program there are challenges so therefore those challenges should be used to build a more concrete policy in subsequent years but in regards to this policy, Ghana hasn’t subjected the policy for review which continues to amount same challenges making it not to achieve its goals
The challenges include, complicated registration procedures, great distances between registration and distribution locations, delayed delivery of seeds and fertilizer in some districts, low-quality seeds and fertilizer, and political intervention were some of the difficulties noted.
A research also conducted in four regions comprising Northern, Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra.
According to the research findings, just 17.5% of all farmers received fertilizer and seeds under the Planting for Food and Jobs strategy, and the other 82.25 percent received no government assistance for 2017.The study found that almost all of the farmers who received inputs were concerned that the seeds and fertilizers were of poor quality and were not delivered on schedule. Because more work has not been done to sell the produce grown by farmers, the research demonstrates that there is a problem with the distribution system.
The study also showed how numerous difficulties, including post-harvest losses and poor transportation networks, made things worse for smallholder farmers. What worries me is that the areas where we receive our farmland and source our income are areas with poor transportation systems. [https//www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/planting-for-food-and-jobs-policy-is-practically-weak-research.html].
In conclusion, gaining access to PFJ would not only result in a much-needed rise in the production, income, and consumption of rice and maize, but it would also lower agricultural expenses and alleviate income poverty. However, if properly implemented, the initiative will lower import costs for rice, maize, and other commodities, raise farmer living standards, and stop rural-urban migration by generating jobs.
Agriculture revenue might be invested in other industries to increase monthly consumption income. The policy’s benefits would also guarantee the nation’s and households’ access to food.
Given that more than 60% of people in the north are farmers, it can also be utilized as a strategy to reduce rural poverty in the north, closing the income gap between the north and the south (MoFA., 2014 ). The PFJ program is an excellent one that should be effectively executed in order to improve the lives of the poor, particularly in rural areas, and to lessen the amount of food we import from other countries.
This would free up funds for the construction of hospitals, schools, roads, and other facilities. PFJ offers young people a job opportunity and a means of independence.
It can also be used as a tool to reduce rural poverty in the North, thereby reducing the income inequality gap that exists between the north and the south, since more than 60 per cent of the people in the north are farmers (MoFA., 2014 ).
PFJ is a good programme which need to be properly implemented to improve the lives of the poor especially in the rural communities and also reduce the number of food we import from foreign countries, so that we can use that money to build hospitals, schools, create employment and construct roads. PFJ is also an employment avenue for the youth; it can help as to be self-independent.