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GASIP: Support for Agribusinesses in Ghana Kofi Amponsah// 

Ghana Agric sector Investment programme (GASIP), has to be commended for the tremendous progress in the upgrade of the commodity value chain in the country.

The Ghana Agric sector Investment programme is a unique value chains development programme aimed at increasing the incomes of small resource poor farmers on a sustainable basis. It is funded by the Government of Ghana and the International bank for Agric Development (IFAD), with ministry of food and Agriculture as an implementing agency.

GASIP realizes that for small poor farmers to come out of poverty, they have to respond to market demand in the selection of crops and crop varieties. They equally have to be competitive in terms of increasing yields and quality of their produce.  Infrastructure in terms of feeder roads and farm access to open up their farms to market centres are critical.

Small farmers also need easy access to finance, inputs and extension services, more importantly, they need linkages to agric businesses as pull factors.

 In an interview with the national programme coordinator of GASIP, Mr. Roy Ayariga, he mentioned some of the challenges farmers are confronted with and stated that GASIP is designed to address them to make the small farmer profitable year by year.

He said that in the past, the public sector determined the support needs of the farmer or agri –business, but with GASIP,’’ it is the private sector that determines the type of support they need to upgrade their businesses, GASIP is therefore purely private sector led.’’ He added

 According to Mr. Ayariga, GASIP has commenced modestly with support mechanisms for ten agribusiness in the cassava and rice value chains for four women in agribusinesses.’’ For 2017, GASIP has fifty seven agribusiness cluster in cassava, rice, fruits, vegetables and aquaculture value chains.

 These were evaluated and selected from 125 agribusinesses that expressed interest.’’ He said
 He said the support being provided include infrastructure, feeder roads, farm access tracks, warehouses as well as marching grants.

Mr. Ayariga who is passionate about youth in agribusinesses advised the youth not to see agric as cutlass and hoe business as the ministry of Agriculture is modernizing agriculture with various machinery adding that the value addition of any commodity creates a good business’’ if the youth are assisted to get a loan to acquire a grain driver,  for example in a region like Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, they would not have to depend on the whether, the farmers would have an opportunity of drying their grains at a faster rate and the youth will equally earn some income.’’ He noted.

Emphasizing on the importance of planting for food and jobs programme launched by the government, he said ‘’it will help increase food production and create jobs in the Agric sector.’’
He noted that incentives such as seed and fertilizer which are the dominant input for agric production has been 50% subsidized by the government to  enable farmers get the right yield.

Reacting to critics who expressed their disappointment about the manner in which the programme was carried out as a result of inadequate consultation by stakeholders, Mr. Ayariga appealed to them to exercise restraint as plans are currently underway to give it the necessary boost to make the policy achievable. ‘A lot of publicity and education will be done. 

There will be jingles, adverts all over the country to sensitize  people, the modalities would be spelt out, information will be  provided from one region  and one geographical area to the other.’’ He emphasised.

On the issue of illegal mining, he indicated that although galamsey operators are ‘’ enemies of agric’’ who destroy farmlands and water bodies, an alternative livelihood should be provided to support them to help prevent any form of social vices in these communities.

Mr. Ayariga suggested agribusiness as one of the best ways of reducing unemployment in the country as everybody involve becomes profitable along the value chain stressing that the value chain analysis exposes the potential in every commodity which makes it attractive to the youth.

 He said ‘’There are various ways by which agric value chain can create employment for all galamsey operators. There are various ventures which will be attractive to them along the line. Agric mechanization will be provided, planting profitable crops and providing them with ready market for them to get their money.’’

Mr. Ayariga noted that for Ghana to eradicate illegal mining, effective measures would have to be taken by all stakeholders.’’ When you allow galamsey to flourish unattended to, for it to reach a certain magnitude, it needs an equal level of magnitude to tackle the problem. ‘’He emphasised.

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