Farmers Manifesto, which sets the stage for farmers to articulate their concerns in the 2012 Elections and beyond through a common set of demands for the achievement of food security, poverty reduction and sustainable national development, has been launched in Accra.

The manifesto was spearheaded by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), who has challenged political parties to address major issues hampering the development of small-scale agriculture and food security through increased investment in the sector.

Naa Professor John S. Nabila, Wulugunaba and President of the National House of Chiefs, who launched the manifesto, said the farmers indicated that the manifesto would be used to engage key political parties to ensure that their voices and aspirations were reflected in the parties? manifestos and in agricultural policies and programmes that would emerge after the 2012 elections.

He said farmers maintained that the manifesto was a non-partisan document owned by a broad constituent of farmers and took positions on broad national issues, policies and systems as they related to agriculture and food security.

Prof Nabila sets out critical issues of concern to small-scale farmers in Ghana and makes demands for measures to address them.

He challenged all political parties and political office seekers and holders to actively engage with the farmers? manifesto by endorsing or proffering alternatives to the propositions of the manifesto.

Prof Nabila noted issues raised in the manifesto include low participation of small-scale farmers in agriculture and food security governance, poor access of small-scale farmers to resources critical for making a living, prevalence of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition among small-scale farmers.

?Others are low levels of quality public and private investment in smallholder agriculture, research and development, gender inequality in agriculture, especially in relation to access to resources and services and poor access to banking and financial services?.

Again there were issues on climate change, agriculture donor co-ordination and poor access to and control over land by women and other small scale farmers.

Professor Nabila said poverty, hunger and deprivation had bedeviled communities for a very long time, a situation that had been brought about by a systematic neglect of agriculture, which was the primary source of livelihood and main economic activity of the people.

He said the development of the farmers? manifesto, which sought to focus on this year?s election on key issues in areas of agriculture, was a development, which must be embraced by all well-meaning Ghanaians.

Professor Ramatu M. Al-hassa, a senior lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Ghana noted that available data suggested that Ghana was not doing badly in terms of meeting the 10 per cent target of government expenditure on agriculture.

?There was a negative correlation between expenditure and allocation and the growth performance of the sector. It seems to me that we ought to be assessing the quality of expenditure and demanding improvements in that direction even as we seek more funding for the sector?.

She said the farmers? manifesto was a good idea and the initiators and all those who had contributed to its development, needed to be commended.

Prof Al-hassan outlined various demands of the farmers in the manifesto which bothered on monetary policy, fiscal policy, economic partnership agreement and agriculture, climate change, public sector financing and agriculture, development partner support, agricultural research, extension and development, gender inequality and agriculture and land tenure.

She noted that some of the demands included instituting agricultural bonds, making it mandatory for banks to allocate 20 per cent of credit supply to small-scale farmers and mechanisms for improving women?s access to financial services and land.

Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru, President of PFAG, said this was the first time farmers in the country had put together a document of this nature ahead of an election and expressed the hope that the document would influence political party manifestos.

He appealed to political parties to give the manifesto the serious consideration it deserves and added that the small-scale farmers were watching and would continue to watch and hold them accountable if they failed to deliver.

Source: GNA

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