The Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has called on farmers and Ghanaians as a whole to embrace the government’s proposed electronic levy (e-levy) which was announced in the 2022 budget statement by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, last month.
According to Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Akufo-Addo administration was working assiduously to raise money to support farmers in the country, and that the e-levy would help in that regard.
The Finance Minister who introduced the levy in the 2022 budget told Parliament a huge chunk of the proceeds will support entrepreneurship.
The Agric Minister said the National Democratic Congress’ entrenched position on the levy is very worrying.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto made the assertion when he visited one of the government’s built warehouses at Gambaga in the North East Region on his first-day visit to the region as part of his 13-day tour of the northern sector.
“There are two markets in Ghana; the subsidized fertilizer market, which is the planting for foods and jobs, and the commercial or open market for anyone who wants to buy. These two markets have existed side by side, but because the subsidized fertilizer market was so big, there was very little for the open market. Now with the price increases on the open market, we are also facing problems with revenue collection in Ghana and everywhere else because international trades have also shrunk.”
“We get most of our government revenue from international trade – imports and exports. That is why it’s become necessary for this government to look for alternative sources of revenue to close the gap, hence the introduction of the electronic levy. The opposition (NDC) is making the electronic levy a big issue. What they don’t realize is that it’s affecting other areas. So if we are to remove the levy, where are we going to find the money to give subsidies to farmers? There would be nothing,” he said.
The warehouse contained thousands of tons of harvested rice for safekeeping.
Prior to the visit to the warehouse, Dr. Afriyie Akoto held a durbar with stakeholders and farmers in the agriculture sector in the region, where he encouraged them to support the government’s policies in the sector.
These, he said, included Fertilizer Subsidy, Planting For Food and Jobs (PFJ) among others aimed at improving farming activities in the region.
On the shortage of fertilizer, he indicated that the government was seriously working to address it.
“We are making arrangements to ensure that farmers in the country have fertilizers to apply to their crops,” he assured.
He explained that the problem has come about because of the global shortage of fertilizer, adding that this has caused increases in the price of fertilizer.
He said, regrettably Ghana does not produce fertiliser, and added that the government has subsidised fertilizer for farmers by 50%.
This facility, he said, started when the government began its PFJ programme.
While admitting that there were demands for warehouses, he averred that the uncompleted ones would be worked on as quickly as possible.
The Minister also paid a courtesy call on the Overlord of Mamprugu Kingdom, Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sherigu, at his Nayiri Palace.
Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sherigu thanked the minister and his directors for making time to visit his community.
He recounted how his senior brother, who was an agriculture extension officer, helped him in his farming activities.
He, therefore, challenged the agriculture minister to ensure that extension officers disseminate the needed knowledge to farmers to improve their yields, adding that the region was one of the leading food baskets in the country.
Speaking to journalists, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Mamprusi West, Aremeyaw Somo Lucky Basiutaly, who spoke on behalf of the farmers, mainly rice farmers, mentioned some challenges bedeviling the farmers.
These, he mentioned, included no power at the processing centre and a lack of warehouses in the district for rice farmers.
He, therefore, appealed to the Minister to help resolve these challenges.
From the palace of the Overlord of Mamprusi, the Minister’s team visited the Presbyterian Agriculture Services at Lanbinsi Tenguri where he interacted with the women farmers and promised to support their activities.
He then took his visit to Tamanaa Rice Factory located along the Tamale Highway where rice in its raw state was processed, packaged, and sold to the final consumer or exported.