The President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has said that the government is working to enforce financial discipline with the aim of bringing down inflation and making the cost of borrowing less expensive.

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The rationale behind such a move, he explained, was to make borrowing more affordable, not only for agriculture but also all the other sectors.

President Mahama was answering questions at a joint news conference after opening the 38th Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome last Monday.

The conference was also addressed by Mr Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of IFAD.

President Mahama said the high interest rate resulting from micro-economic instability was a contributory factor to the high cost of borrowing.

However, the government would not fold its arms to allow the phenomenon to negatively affect the progress made in the agricultural sector so far, hence the measures to salvage the situation.

?One thing the government must do is to enforce an environment of fiscal discipline, so that we are able to bring down inflation. When inflation comes down, interest rates also come down. This makes borrowing more affordable, not only for agriculture but for all other sectors,? he said

Even in the face of the high interest rates, President Mahama said, the government was putting in innovative measures that would help turn things round for farmers.

For instance, he said: ?We did an amendment to the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) to turn it into the Export Development and Agriculture Investment Fund (EDAIF), so it no longer targets export financing but also gives assistance to agriculture.?

President commends IFAD

President Mahama commended IFAD for its contribution to Ghana?s development, saying for the 34 years that the fund had operated in the country, it had invested in 17 projects and programmes.

Projects supported by IFAD in Ghana amount to about $77 million, while the fund?s programmes have benefited about 3.5 million poor households in Ghana.

President Mahama said another important programme being implemented in Ghana was the northern rural growth programme, a collaboration between IFAD and the African Development Bank, which was helping some of the poor small-holder families in the Savanna area to improve their incomes.

IFAD on Ghana

Meanwhile, IFAD has hailed Ghana?s phenomenal rise in vegetable exports and challenged other countries, particularly in Africa, to emulate the example.

Last year, the country exported more than 42,000 metric tonnes of vegetables, up about four times the figure in 2009.

?This is good news for the economy and small-holder farmers.

?When I am asked of rural transformation, I point to Africa and to countries such as Ghana,? the IFAD President, Mr Nwanze, said.

Investing in sustainable agriculture

Mr Nwanze said about 80 per cent of the food in developing countries was produced by small-scale farmers yet they remained the ones who were the most hungry.

?The key to reversing this situation is to invest in sustainable rural agriculture development,? he said.

?In every area of development the first point of partnership must be the people themselves. Give them the tools and they will finish the job,? he added.

Source: graphic.com.gh

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