The BUSAC Fund Manager, Mr. Nicolas J. Gebara has emphasized the need for key stakeholders in the agricultural sub sector of the economy to come together and work towards the growth of the sector.
He said the agricultural sub sector remains a major driver of change; hence growth in the sector will result in significant improvement in the Ghanaian economy. Speaking on the theme, "Agri-business Advocacy; BUSAC Fund Perspectives" at the Development Policy and Practice Talk (DPPT) Forum organized by the University of Ghana's Development Policy Poverty Monitoring and Evaluation Centre of Research Excellence (DPPME), Mr. Gebara also highlighted the BUSAC Fund's achievements in Ghana's agricultural sector, as well as lessons learnt during the implementation of business advocacy activities over the past ten years.
In collaboration with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the DPPME organized the forum at the ISSER Seminar Room from 13th to 15th May, 2015 to engage both the academia and industry in discussions relating to food marketing and poverty alleviation and corporate social responsibility for SMEs and Global Multinational Enterprises (MNEs).
During his presentation, Mr. Gebara explained that the BUSAC Fund has supported advocacy in the agricultural sector because growth in this sector has been identified as the major driver of poverty reduction in Ghana. He further explained that being the largest source of employment for Ghanaians, the agricultural sector needs more advocacy interventions in order to improve the livelihoods of farmers, food security, land use rights and gender-based constraints.
Speaking about the achievements of the Fund in the agricultural sector, Mr. Gebara pointed out that the BUSAC Fund has supported initiatives that promote private-public sector dialogue to establish and implement policy frameworks that enhance the business environment of the agricultural sector and encourage private investments.
Mr. Gebara further revealed that during its ten years of operations, the BUSAC Fund approved a total of 277 advocacy grants to agricultural sector-based business associations to enable them advocate the removal of constraints related to agricultural inputs, extension service delivery, infrastructure (markets, access roads, irrigation dams, industrial sites, etc), enforcement of regulations and standards, access to land, etc. Mr. Gebara further explained that out of the 277 grants the Fund approved for associations within the agricultural sector, 37% had fully achieved their objectives, 38% had partially achieved their objectives and 19% had not achieved their objectives.
Regarding challenges, Mr. Gebara cited Lack of data at different levels of the value chain, inadequate extension services to improve the farmers' productivity and compliance to international standards and lack of transparency in the pricing mechanism for farmers as some of the major constraints hampering agricultural productivity and returns.
As part of efforts to foster collaboration and dialogue between academia and the private business sector, the BUSAC Fund facilitated the participation of selected business associations in the forum. Participants at the forum included officials from ISSER, the University of Ghana Business School, BUSAC Fund, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and BUSAC Fund grantees such as the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF), Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), National Union of Aquaculture Associations (NUACA) and Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF).
Delivering a presentation on the topic "Food Marketing and Poverty alleviation", the guest speaker for the day, Prof. Klaus G. Grunert from Aarhus University in Denmark, pointed out that all over the world, consumer demand and preference for food is constantly changing and becoming more complex, thus necessitating the need for all actors in the food value chain to reassess their role in the value creation process as well as their linkages to other chain actors in order to meet the consumer's demand.
Prof. Grunert further stated that increasing consumer interest in quality, responsibility and authenticity is leading to demands on food products that no single value chain actor can fulfill, and that this challenge can best be addressed by a stronger cooperation among different value chain actors. He further explained that much of these new consumer demands relate to credence characteristics of food which makes it increasingly important for physical product flows to be supplemented by information flow.
In the course of his discussions with participants, Prof. Klaus also gave insights into new developments in food consumers' behavior in different parts of the world, and explained the implications for the food marketing activities of farmers, food processors and food retailers.
By Ebenezer Kpentey, the BUSAC Fund