Ghana Agricultural News Digest – September 5, 2016

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Media Reports
ADB Wins Best Bank in Agric, Forestry and Fisheries Financing
The Agricultural Development Bank has been adjudged the best bank in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing at the 15th Ghana Banking Awards held in Accra. The Ghana Banking Awards is recognized as the event which awards the best performing banks in the country, and ADB emerged tops in financing the Agric, Forestry and Fisheries sector which is recognized as the backbone of Ghana’s economy.  Though many banks and financial institutions shun the provision of credit to farmers due to the risky nature of the sector, the bank over the past five years invested over GH¢350million in different areas within the  sector. Managing Director, Daniel Asiedu said winning the award is an indication that the bank remains committed to the reason for its establishment. “Winning the award is an indication that even in the midst of stiff industry competition and an unpredictable agricultural sector the bank remains committed to ensure that the sector remains a major contributor to our economy,” he said.

Asutsuare Rice Business Centre Officially Opened
The Ghana Rice Inter - Professional Body (GRIB) in its five years strategic plan ending 2017, has establishment the Ghana Rice Business Centers (GRBCs) within the various rice growing zones of the country, aimed at delivering effective commercial services to rice value chain actors. The center, located at Asutsuare is the first to be opened officially in the country for the industry actors including producers, aggregators, millers, marketers, service providers. The launching of the center which was in attendance all stakeholders in the rice industry within the Shai Hills, Osu Doku district, representatives from Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), JAK Foundation. Representatives were also drawn from various key partners working with GRIB to run the center including Addicent Foods, Regional Marketing Group (RMG) and Agricultural Manufacturing Group (AMG). Mr. Imoro Amoro, President, GRIB speaking at the official launch explained the various challenges facing the actors in the rice value chain industry as it create huge supply gap of locally produced rice in the country.

 Agric Sector Needs FDI —Economist
Economist and Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr. John Gartchie Gatsi, has urged the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to introduce schemes that will attract foreign investors into the agriculture sector to speed up economic growth. Even though figures from the GIPC show that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) recorded during the second quarter of this year increased by over 400 percent in the amount of initial transfers compared with the value recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2015, investments in the agricultural sector has not been encouraging. The agricultural sector recorded only three projects among the 51 new projects recorded in the period under review, with the manufacturing and services sectors topping with 13 and 20 projects respectively. “African countries should structure the economy in a way that they will have programmes that give incentives to FDIs in the agricultural sector,” Dr Gatsi said.

Ghana Must Say Yes to Genetically Modified Foods – Professor
Professor Jemmy Takrama of the Cocoa Research Institute, has joined the calls on Ghana to accept Genetically Modified (GM) foods towards ensuring food security. He said it was time the country ignored the “wild” stories about the technology and adopted it to produce more food cheaply to eliminate hunger among the populace. Prof. Takrama made the call at the 2nd National Sanitation, Food Hygiene and Safety conference, in Ho. The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains: “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.

SEND-Ghana Leads Discussions on Donor Investment in Agriculture
SEND-Ghana, a civil society organisation, has begun a national stakeholders’ dialogue on donor inflows to Ghana’s agricultural sector to curb problems relating to the impact of donor investment. Policy makers and implementers, researchers, civil society groups, and development partners thought through research findings of donor assistance over the years to support food security and solve problems confronting smallholder, women, and rural farmers. Mr. Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of SEND-Ghana said government needs to give priority to the agricultural sector, given its huge important roles in the economy as major source of livelihoods to many people, especial the rural poor.

UNDP Mitigates Impacts of Climate Change in Cocoa Growing Areas
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), under its five year project to mitigate the effects of climate change in the country’s cocoa landscape, has in the past two years supplied 800,000 economic tree seedlings to more than 6,000 farmers in growing areas of the cash crop. The project named the "Environment Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana Project (ESP)", is being implemented in 36 communities with the distribution of local species of Mahogany and Ofram to the farmers to promote environmental sustainability production practices in cocoa growing sites, through biodiversity conservation. The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), is the main implementer of the project, with additional support from the Mondelez International's Cocoa Life Programme.

Agricultural Advisory Services Network Launched
Agricultural Advisory Services Network of Ghana (AASN-Ghana) has been launched to provide accurate, timely and reliable information along the agricultural value chain to stakeholders in the country. The AASN-Ghana, which is a network of experts and stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, will work to bring together actors in the agricultural sector to share data and best practices as well as strategize on ways to reach farmers for better results. Chief Issahaku Yabyure Jesiwuni, Coordinator of AASN-Ghana, who spoke during the launch in Tamale, said AASN-Ghana became necessary to streamline the provision of agricultural services including extension to smallholder farmers to improve production.

Non-traditional Exports see Marginal Growth …Three Years to US$5bn Target
Exports of non-traditional products from January to December 2015 amounted to US$2.522billion or GHc9.210billion, representing an increase of 0.32% over the year 2014, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has announced. The figure represents just over half of a five-year, US$5billion target set in 2013 under the National Export Strategy. Released yesterday, the statistics indicate that the marginal increase in revenue from US$2.514 billion in 2014 to US$2.522b in 2015, was mainly due to increase in agricultural products exports, particularly cashew nuts. Total earnings of the sector stem from three sub-sectors – agriculture, handicraft, and processed and semi-processed products like canned tuna, cocoa paste, shea oil, among others. Although the processed and semi-processed products sub-sector contributed the most to total revenue (84.09%), its contribution of US$2,120.50 million represents a 2.27percent decline over the year 2014 figure of US$2,169.65million.

GREL worry about Illegal Miners Invading Rubber Plantations
The Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL), a leading rubber producer in the country’s commodities sector has expressed wary of the menace caused by the activities of illegal miners as the company calls on government for major security support to halt their activities. The activities of the illegal small scale miners which is gradually destroying the major rubber plantations in the western region is causing the company to spend huge sums of cash in providing security to protect various farmlands and water bodies in the various communities the company operates.  “Our greatest threats to our farmlands are the activities of the galamsey operators. They invade the concessions; they dig holes which become very serious to the workers and farmers. Their activities leave holes which become dangerous traps within the farmlands, and once they do that, people easily fall into it. “The illegal miners also fell the rubber trees and expose the land to flooding, they open up the concessions to the river bodies and so it gets easily flooded; so we are always fighting them,” said Perry Acheampong, Corporate Affairs Manager of GREL in an interview with B&FT during a tour of the company in Takoradi, Western Region.

‘Regularise Size of Land Companies can Acquire’
The Land Bill currently being drafted defines land from 10 acres and beyond as large scale, the Lands Commission pegs it as 50 acres and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) puts it at 500 acres. The National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition of Land, a non-governmental organisation, Mr. Ebenezer Agyei Bediako, said the issues about large-scale land acquisition affected several smallholder farmers.  “We want things to be streamlined and proper definition of what large-scale land in Ghana is, because of the effect it could have on food security.” The Project Leader of the research, Dr Akosua Darkwah, said the conversation about food security and land acquisition had to be done at the national level as currently, there were no figures on how much land was under cultivation and in the hands of the real estate sector.

The Complexities of Women Land Ownership in Northern Ghana
MK Kaunza-Nu-Dem, B Tijani, D Millar, A Humphrey - Open Access Library Journal, 2016
Land issues have the potential to, and actually do generate a lot of conflicts and controversies in rural communities. In Northern Ghana, certain dilemmas, animated controversies, and conflicts about land rights, the resolution of which sometimes leads relatively innocuous compromise later manifest in several negative ramifications. For women in particular, the above negativities associated with land are even more pronounce and more protracted. This research adopted a case study approach to conduct this survey. The specific techniques used for data collection and analysis include: stratified group discussions, focus group discussions, key informant interview, phased assertion (confrontational dialogue), and critical arena analysis. The major findings include the fact that both men and women stated that land allocation to women is a regular affair now. It is the aspect of outright long-term ownership and user rights that are still very restricted. Since women do not sacrifice to the land her role in land sacrifices will be problematic. Women would prefer to acquire such formalized rights in their husbands’ homes, with the understanding that they could pass rights so acquired to their sons. Because of the intricate nature of land and the complications therein, and for the avoidance of perpetual conflicts, the women opted for increasing user-rights rather than ownership or controls of land.

 Social Science Studies on European and African Agriculture Compared: Bringing Together Different Strands of Academic Debate on GM Crops
K Fischer, C Eriksson - Sustainability, 2016 - Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
This study explored the social science-orientated literature on genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe and compared it with the corresponding literature on GM crops in African contexts, in order to determine the nature and extent of north-south cross-fertilisation in the literature. A total of 1625 papers on GM crops and agriculture falling within the ‘social science and humanities’ subject area in the Scopus abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature were analysed for major trends relating to geographical areas. More detailed analysis was performed on papers discussing African (56 papers) and European (127 papers) contexts. The analysis revealed that studies on policy and politics were common in both strands of the literature, frequently focusing on effects of the relatively restrictive European Union regulations on GM crops. There were also clear differences, however. For example, papers focusing on Africa frequently examined farm-level impacts and production, while this theme was almost non-existent in the Europe literature. It focused instead on policy impacts on trade and consumer attitudes to GM products.

* The GSSP News Digest just summarizes news that is reported in the press. Any errors of fact or omission are not IFPRI’s responsibility*