The Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) is appealing to the government to set out a specific action plan to protect farmers as the coronavirus continues to spread in the country.
GAWU believes this is necessary because farmers are excluded from the lockdown and are therefore required to continue the supply of foodstuffs to the market in the lockdown areas.
Agric Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has assured farmers of government’s priority to help farmers during this period.
But speaking in an interview with Citibusiness, the general secretary of GAWU, Edward Kareweh said farmers need more than assurances.
“That statement from the minister which in itself is seeking to assure us that everything about agriculture is okay also goes to underscore the fact that agriculture is insulated from the COVID-19 and that is the reason why you may see that there is no actual concrete new policy targeted at agriculture. What we have been doing in the past like continue to supply improved seed at subsidized price of 50% of the cost, fertilizer at 50% of the cost and what we have been doing is what we are going to continue,” he said.
He added that “Agriculture workers union has not come to a realization from the ministry’s point of view and base on what they have rolled out so far that agriculture will be affected by the COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Edward Kareweh has said that agricultural products are likely to drop due to the lockdown in some areas.
“Farmers in other parts of the country who are not suffering from the lock-down produce; but the markets for their produce in the lock-down areas are not available. What this means is that it is going to affect production because when the farmers produce, they are unable to sell or send it to the market centres that are in the lock-down areas; therefore, they cannot continue to produce. Apart from that; even for them to make a rational decision they would have come to certain suffering where they would incur some losses because once you produce and you cannot sell; then certainly you would incur losses. Even if your production is ongoing; you cannot recover the losses you have incurred. That is it for those farmers outside the region under lock-down,” he noted.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto last week assured that there will not be food shortage as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.
What assurance did the Agric Minister give to farmers?
According to the government, priority is being given to help farmers financially.
“We are focusing on soya and we are focusing on poultry because these are the ones that we are most dependent upon from outside this country in terms of the volume and the value of imports. You would see that the millers do not have enough working capital to buy from farmers. It is a project we are talking about to give working capital to rice millers so that they can buy pudding from farmers. The ministry of finance and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana are putting their heads together to work closely with commercial banks in order that they would give working capital to the millers to buy from the farmers to mill and then to sell unto the value chain,” he said.