The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Akoto Owusu Afriyie, has expressed concern about the limited support commercial banks offer to farmers in the country and says the government will be engaging them soon on the need to review their position to support the agric sector.
The Minister was particularly worried about the lack of credit to rice farmers to mill their produce.
The Minister lamented the situation where some foreigners, particularly Nigerians, mill the rice grown in Ghana and make more profit because Ghanaian mills have low capacity due to lack of working capital.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, the Minister revealed plans to hold a meeting with the President, and the commercial banks to make a strong case for banks to support rice millers in the country.
“Our milling capacity put together is only 450, 000 metric tons, paddy production last year was 1.1 million, we have less than half the metric tons needed, that’s why the Nigerians come to take the paddy, go and mill it, and make all the profit from it.”
“I am trying to get investors to come to invest in the milling capacity, even the current milling capacity is only about 70%. The bank has refused to give working capital to the millers, and the commercial banks in the country have vacated the agricultural sector, making our effort amount to nothing. A meeting has been arranged with all commercial banks, the president and the governor will be present, while I point out that it is high time they came in with agricultural credits.”
He further stated that he stands with the farmers on the removal of the benchmark values on the products exported.
“I stand with the farmers on that. Apart from the Grain Development Authority which is going to regulate the grain market which includes rice, there is a specific executive instrument coming up that will control the outgoing of our grains to neighboring countries. ”
“We have to do that because we can’t spend the taxpayer’s monies, subsidize production, and for our neighbours who don’t have any contribution to take advantage of that. So, I’m very sympathetic to the farmers on that.”
Farmers have always complained about the lack of access to loans from the banks to aid their production.