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Surprisingly optimistic!
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The International Monetary Fund is not impressed by the rate at which the Ghanaian economy is growing.

Although the fund has praised government for its handling of the economy and has also predicted a stronger growth rate this year, it says a lot more can be done in areas such as reducing poverty and borrowing.

This was the verdict of a delegation from the Fund which was in the country for a week to assess government’s programmes.

The delegation asked managers of the economy to strive to reduce the fiscal deficit and associated public borrowing, to sustain and build on the favorable trends in inflation and macro-economic stability.

In an exclusive interview with Joy Business, leader of the IMF Mission Peter Allum said borrowing is not a precursor to building a bigger economy.

“Ghana seems to be a better place than it was 10 years ago but obviously it is not growing fast enough, poverty is still too high,” he said.

lthough Ghana was on course to achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1) of halving poverty and hunger before the year 2015 the country still faced significant challenges in sustaining and accelerating agricultural growth to meet the target of 6.0 per cent agricultural growth per year.

Dr Stephen Nutsugah, Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), stated this at a farmers field day organised by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Soil Health Project at Cheshegu in the Tolon/Kumbungu District of the Northern Region at the weekend.

The forum, which had in attendance AGRA's donor partners such as DANIDA, IFAD and USAID provided the opportunity for interactions between the farmers and agricultural scientists for them to know their problems and to introduce the donor partners to the work that AGRA was doing in the Northern Region.

Dr Nutsugah said for example, Ghana's 2005/06 cropping season yields were 20 per cent to 60 per cent lower than the achievable yields for most staple crops adding, "an increase of agricultural productivity can be achieved by closing the gaps between current and achievable yields".

He said this would require a Green-revolution type of investment including irrigation, access to improved seeds and fertilizer, extension and other services, which AGRA sought to achieve in Northern Ghana.

"This transformation of agriculture will be the key to permanently reducing poverty, ending hunger and substantially improving the wellbeing of smallholder farmers now and in the future."

He said CSIR-SARI would keep to its strategic direction in the key areas of market orientation of research and strengthening of the organisational structures and processes for enhancing service delivery and keeping it on track.

Mr Iddi-Manzah Mahama, District Chief Executive of Tolon/Kumbungu, mentioned the bane of agriculture in the country as the high rate of importation of cereals and livestock products and said the Government was taking appropriate measures to minimise the importation of these products.

He said the Governments block farming concept had achieved a lot in the area of cereal production especially in maize and rice', adding that as a result there was already a drive for import substitution for rice and the Government intended to extend this to cover meat and other livestock products.

Farmers at the forum commended the AGRA initiative for educating them on soil fertility and the new technologies introduced to them but said they were unable to implement the finding for the lack of resources.
 
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