‘Agric Sector Needs Protection’

The General Secretary of the Ghana Agriculture Producers and Trade organisation (GAPTO), Haruna Ageshega, has called on government to take measures to protect the agricultural sector of the country from problems that may arise as a result of the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Mr. Ageshega disclosed this at the presentation of a study conducted by the GAPTO and Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).He said, “The study of the interim EPA is a means to create a baseline of fiscal measures that have not been done.” He urged stakeholders in the agric sector to engage government in discussions about the problems that may arise from the implementation of the EPA. The highlight of the study was how to liberalize all inputs used by local manufacturers in the first five years without causing adverse impacts on domestic revenue generation. The study recommended that goods that have strong domestic demand must be produced locally and should be put in category D (not liberalized). All inputs for domestic firms, according to the study, should be put in category A (liberalized in the first 5 years). Among the recommendations were the enactment of favourable business laws to make local firms competitive, and the strengthening of the capacities of regulatory institutions including the Ghana Standards Board and the Food and Drugs Board to enhance standard enforcement. It also tasked government to create an enabling environment to improve the efficiency of industries in Ghana.The study also mentioned supply constraints as a major challenge to Ghana. Some of the issues raised during the follow-up workshops included land acquisition, access to credit and agricultural inputs, access to extension services and poor seed varieties, among others.The Interim EPA has been initialed but is yet to be signed by the Minister of Trade & Industry and ratified by Parliament.