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General News of Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Source: GNA

Peasant farmers Association submits draft bill

Accra, Feb. 5, GNA - Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, an advocacy group fighting for improvement in the livelihood of farmers, has submitted a draft bill on Agriculture Credit and Competitive Fund to government to help in the process of enacting a legislation to enhance farmers' and farm-related enterprises access to credit facilities.

The Bill seeks the establishment of an Agricultural Credit Fund with seed money to be provided by government and the Bank of Ghana to provide financial resources to farmers and producers of agricultural products. The Draft bill, which was prepared with the assistance of Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund), would also put in place mechanisms to safeguard farmers from unfair foreign competition. In the 2008 Budget Statement, Finance Minister Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, announced the intention of government to establish a self-sustaining Agriculture Investment Fund that would entirely focus on funding agriculture and introduce tax incentives in the banking sector to encourage banks to lend at favourable rates to the sector. Currently, only about six per cent of total bank credit goes to agriculture.

Mrs. Victoria Adongo, Programme Coordinator of PFAG, who presented the draft bill to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr Clement Eledi, said access to credit by farmers had become increasingly difficult thereby threatening livelihoods.

She said, even in situations where farmers succeeded in accessing credit their competitiveness was threatened by import upsurges, necessitating the need for measures, such as higher tariff or even the imposition of quotas to reduce the level of foreign competition. Mrs Adongo expressed the hope that with the passage of the proposed bill, farmers access to credit, insurance and market would be enhanced. Mr Eledi said government was committed to improving agriculture financing hence the initiative to establish a fund solely dedicated to the sector in the 2008 budget.

He lauded the initiative of PFAG for the draft bill and said it would be studied and relevant suggestions made for onward passage to the Attorney-General.

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