Ambassador Virginia Evelyn Palmer, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, has called on stakeholders in the agribusiness sector to leverage partnerships to tackle challenges hindering the growth and development of the sector.
She noted, particularly the difficulties in accessing agribusiness financing in the country and, therefore, said working together could possibly expand access to affordable and commercial financing for farmers and agribusinesses, thereby promoting food security and sustainable economic growth.
Ambassador Palmer made the call when she addressed the 2022 Agribusiness Investment Summit held in Accra on the theme: “Strategic Partnerships for Sustainable Agricultural Financing,” organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported Feed the Future Ghana Mobilizing Finance in Agriculture (MFA) Activity.
The Summit provided a platform for stakeholders in the agribusiness space to share information and knowledge on innovative agricultural financing in the country and showcased economically viable agribusiness investment opportunities in the maize, soy, groundnut, cowpea, mango, pineapple, cashew, and shea value chains.
Ambassador Palmer expressed concern about economic challenges confronting the country and called on the government to adopt steps to improve the nation’s macro-economic conditions.
“It is a challenging time for farmers and the finance sector, in particular because of high inflation and depreciation of the cedi. Additionally, fertilizer prices have been high, reducing usage which could lead to smaller yields in the coming months”, she said.
The US government, she indicated, was creating opportunities to promote job creation and support of incomes in the country.
“In just the past two months, our programmes facilitated US$16 million in financing through 15 financial institutions.
This financing in turn supported more than 7,500 agribusinesses, including 3,600 female-led enterprises”, Ambassador Palmer added.
In a speech on his behalf, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, entreated financial institutions to support the development of climate-smart agriculture interventions to increase food productivity.
This would help financial institutions to manage climate change risks in agricultural lending, he said, adding “agricultural financing needs to be innovative to attract private capital and deepen the resilience of agriculture finance markets.”
Dr. John Apontuah Kumah, a Deputy Minister of Finance, said the government had adopted a paradigm shift to transform agricultural financing to reposition the sector and make it a true driver for sustainable economic growth and development.
He said the Ministry had created a special unit to liaise with key sector players for collection of data, policy analysis on the agriculture sector, and research on agribusiness financing options to boost commercial agriculture in the country.
Dr. Victor Antwi, the Chief of Party of MFA Activity, said the Activity would help mobilize more than US$260 million in financing for the agribusiness sector.
He announced “in approximately two years of the activity, MFA has mobilized over US$178.5 million (72.5 percent from commercial banks) for 18,636 farmers and agribusinesses, including 54 per cent female-led agribusinesses in the country.
The Activity is also implementing a US$2.77 million COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Challenge Fund to benefit more than 29,000 smallholder farmers with 66 per cent being women, Dr. Antwi stated.