The Chief Farmer of Anyako Farms, Richard Nunekpeku, believes if agriculture is to make strides, the setting up of incubator facilities across the country, would not only boost the sector but enhanced its attractiveness.
He contends that agriculture remains a very difficult field and without capacity on the individual’s part, whichever capital you intend to invest in, may be poorly applied.
“For me, the opportunity the incubator programme offers is that, it is able to build the capacity of young people who are interested in agriculture, because it is a very difficult field so if you don’t have capacity, whatever capital you have, you may not put it to the right use.
So I believe that, some of us who have gone through the mill and have built an ecosystem that supports agricultural development should be able to train new crop of people who are interested in agriculture under a controlled environment,” he said at the agric session of the B&FT organized Ghana Economic Forum (GEF).
He also explained that the incubator programme, can be run for two or three seasons, to practically teach the nuances of agriculture, which in turn would build their capacities and spur prospective farmers to start their own businesses.
According to Mr. Nunekpeku, some small-scale farmers do not have the commercial sense to agriculture and lack basic practice like record keeping of previous investments they made and that whatever they sell becomes profit for them.
“That is not entirely profit, because they have invested in seeds, fertilizer, and even in their own labour, coming to the field and work so they need to work out all those numbers to determine whether that production was profitable or not because making the next decision on what to produce.
But currently, our small-scale farmers don’t do that and government would not be in a position given the skill we have for small scale farmers to take them through commercial and agricultural practices, so it is the big commercial farms that are in a position to enroll these small-scale farmers into a changed programme.”
Over the past decades, the agriculture sector has been a major contributor to the country’s economy; but in recent times the sector’s influence has withered. The sector’s contribution to GDP has also fallen from 31.8 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2013.
Despite the majority of working Ghanaians being employed in agriculture, most do so on a peasant basis or at the tail-end of their working life, owing a multiplicity of factors including lack of policy direction and credit. This has brought about the threat of an increasing export food bill as local food production cannot match demand.
In 2014, for instance, the country expended US$1.5billon on the importation of basic foods such as rice.