Local producers say lower tariffs threaten agri-businesses

Local producers say the reduced tariff values for some imported products in the agriculture value chain, especially those that are already being produced locally, is impacting negatively on businesses.

They said the 50 percent reduction in the benchmark value covered about 19 percent of products produced domestically and the current lower tariffs on the imported products was making them cheaper than those produced in the country.

Speaking at an AGI Agribusiness Sector seminar in Accra, Ms Fatima Ali Mohammed, Agriculture Sector Chair-Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), said the reduced benchmark values have brought the local manufacturing players into distress across the board.

She said imports from neighbouring markets were now cheaper than those produce in factories in-country, and even imports from across the sea are much cheaper than what is being produced domestically.

“Free trade should mean fair trade, and this is unfortunately not the case today in Ghana post the recent introduction of 50 percent Reduced Benchmark Values,” she added.

For instance, she said, Ghana Oil Palm Development Company and Wilmar – both in the oil palm sector were both distressed and considering laying-off workers as a result.

Besides, products such as tomatoes, rice, poultry, among others, are suffering because of the revision.

Ms Mohammed said Ghanaian producers needed to be properly positioned to protect the interests of the country first and create the best mutually beneficial outcomes with others.

The AGI Agri-business Sector seminar aims to coordinate relevant stakeholders along the value chain, particularly along government’s programme of ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development.

Mr Collins Ntim, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, said government’s plan was to use agriculture to revamp the economy and spur rural development.

In this direction, government was coming out with programmes and policies to ensure the active participation of the private sector and encourage the members of the AGI to take advantage of the opportunities being offered under the various flagship programmes.

Mr George Oduro, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Charge of Perennial Crops, said government through various interventions in agriculture sector was seeking to provide raw materials for industry and to cut down on imports of rice and poultry products as well as boost exports.