The 2020 National Best Farmer, Solomon Kojo Kusi, has called for banks to offer grants and loans at cheaper rates to farmers to boost productivity in the sector.
His concern was hinged on the inability of smallholder farmers to access credit facilities and other aids to be used on their various farms.
“We want the local farmers to get access to such grants. If you serve the big-time farmers sometimes, we can take care of ourselves but the majority, if you serve the small scale, they constitute about 70 or 80 per cent so our pleading is that, the banks should sit down make some policies which will cover small scale farmers. Reduce the interest rates, open up the grants, that will be the solution”, he explained.
Research conducted by the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA), showed that Ghana is estimated to have 1.5 million cocoa farmers, of which 60% are poor.
According to Mr Kusi, this can be resolved by making grants accessible to smallholder farmers.
He explained that locally produced food items should not be as expensive as they are currently, adding that lower prices of imported products can be attributed to the high levels of imports in the country.
“In my estimation, the food we sell to consumers is still high. If the Chinese, Indians, can do rice and come and it sell it for 200 cedis and we do rice here in Ghana and sell it at 220cedis or 250cedis, does it sound right to you? We have to sell it for at least 120 or 130 so we can feel the impact. So, the challenge is money and the money we are talking about is not loan, we are talking about grants so that everybody will be free.”
He was speaking in an interview ahead of this year’s farmers’ day celebrations in Cape Coast.
The celebration was under the theme; “Planting for Food and Jobs – Consolidating food system in Ghana”.