The government will spend GH¢614million (US$98 million) on its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme for the 2022 implementation year. The amount is an increase from GH¢439million (US$70million) spent in the 2021 planting season.
The increase in allocation by 39 per cent in 2022 is expected to have a corresponding increase in the number of targetted beneficiaries, and also help clear all outstanding debts owed to input suppliers, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture confirmed.
Total PFJ allocations of GH¢614million this year constitute about 59.5 percent of the total budget for the Food and Agriculture Ministry (MoFA) allocation for 2022 – GH¢1.1billion.
However, the decrease in the ministry’s budget to GH¢1,103,171,000 in 2022 from GH¢1,183,592,230 in 2021 may have no effect on food production – which will result in food shortages, since 90.2 percent (GH¢554million) of allocation to PFJ is mainly geared toward the purchase of agro-inputs for smallholder farmers across the country.
But a Senior Programmes Manager of SEND Ghana, Harriet Nuamah, indicated that an increase in food production can only be achieved if government pays distributors of agro-inputs on time and adequate inputs are transported to the districts before the planting season begins.
Out of the allocated amount to PFJ, MoFA is expected to disburse GH¢15million through the Tree Crop Development Authority and GH¢27million on the development of the Pwalugu multi-purpose dam.
The above investments are expected to increase food and livestock production, which will, in turn, support the school feeding programme as well as the provision of food to students in senior high schools under the Free Senior High School (FSHS) programme – thereby contributing to a reduction of food importation.
The planned construction of irrigation facilities, small earth dams, feeder roads/farm tracks and construction of six veterinary clinics in the newly created regions, as well as the rehabilitation of 14 livestock houses as stated in the 2022 agriculture sector budget, will help in reducing the unemployment rate by engaging graduates from veterinary and other agricultural colleges who are yet to be posted or fully employed.
“While its ambitious targets for PFJ in 2022 are commendable, the government should endeavour to release funds on time to avert delays in the distribution of fertiliser and certified seeds to smallholder farmers to avert similar situations to what happened in the 2021 planting season. Most important is for government to put mechanisms in place to check fertiliser smuggling,” SEND Ghana appealed.