Government has reportedly spent an estimated GH¢2.9 billion on its flagship agricultural program, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), since its inception in 2017, according to minority lawmakers.
A detailed breakdown of expenditures reveals that GH¢400 million was spent in 2018, GH¢380 million in 2019, and approximately GH¢400 million in 2020. Subsequent years saw GH¢439 million in 2021, GH¢614 million in 2022, and GH¢660 million in 2023 dedicated to the program.
Despite this substantial investment, the agricultural sector has experienced a meager growth rate of about 0.7%, and the nation has grappled with soaring food inflation, reaching unprecedented levels.
Dr. Godfred Seidu Jasaw, the deputy Ranking Member of the Committee on Food, Agriculture, and Cocoa Affairs, expressed deep concern over the lackluster performance of PFJ. He emphasized that, despite inheriting an agricultural sector with a growth rate of 2.7% in 2016, the sector’s growth has now stagnated at a mere 0.7%. This situation has led to food inflation surging to alarming levels, currently standing at 43.1%.
The minority lawmakers also raised questions about a GH¢660 million allocation to PFJ in 2023, even though the government announced the end of PFJ’s first phase in December 2022. They demanded clarification on the purpose of this allocation.
President Nana Akufo-Addo recently launched PFJ’s second phase, which represents a shift in policy direction from input subsidy to an input credit guarantee system. However, concerns have arisen about the effectiveness of this shift, with questions about its impact on increasing production and reducing prices of essential commodities.
The minority lawmakers have pointed out several limitations in PFJ’s first phase, including its heavy burden on the government’s budget, limited access to agricultural credit, and insufficient focus on the needs of various categories of farmers. They also noted that PFJ was originally initiated by the previous administration and funded by the Canadian government.
the minority MPs have challenged the government to provide clear strategies for protecting smallholder farmers, reducing input and production costs, and achieving import substitution for critical commodities like rice, maize, and poultry. They argue that given the current economic situation, the input subsidy program is unsustainable.