Despite the assertion by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta during the 2019 mid-year budget review last Monday that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme has significantly increased domestic food production, the Auditor General is envisaging the sustainability of the programme would be adversely affected by the poor manner of loan recovery from farmers after the farming season.
Under the PFJ programme, farmers are provided with farm inputs such as fertilizers, seeds among others. They are required to make upfront payment of 50 percent for the farm inputs before the farming season and the remaining 50 percent is payable after the farming season by which time they should have sold their produce.
A review carried out in nineteen offices of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) across the country undertaken by the Auditor General, revealed that out of a total of more than GHc5.575 million worth of inputs provided, only GHc2.686 million in payments due was recovered, leaving an outstanding debt of GHc2.889 million.
For instance, in the Metropolitan Agriculture Development Unit in Tamale in the Northern Region, out credit to the tune of GHc536,849 given to farmers in the area, only GHc3,842 has been recovered, leaving an outstanding debt of GHc533,007.
To ensure effective sustainability of the PFJ programme, the Auditor General, Daniel Domelove is entreating the Agriculture Ministry to institute measures that will ensure prompt recovery of the credit from the farmers.
Under the PFJ programme, Mr. Ofori-Atta mentioned that foodstuff such as maize production increased by 72 percent, rice by 24 percent, soybean by 39 percent and sorghum 100 percent.
The PFJ initiative is to motivate farmers to adopt certified seeds and fertilizers through a private sector led marketing framework, by raising the incentives and complimentary service provisions on the usage of inputs, good agronomic practices, marketing of outputs over an E-Agriculture platform.
This is part of government’s agriculture modernization programmes which aims at ensuring increase in domestic crop production to be the basis for driving industrialization, job creation and export as well as helping to reduce the amount of foreign exchange spent on food imports.