FOUR major groups in the agricultural sector have expressed concerns about the delay by the Finance Minister in granting tax exemptions on agricultural commodities.
The request to that effect by the Minister of Food and Agriculture was meant to make agricultural products cheaper and ensure food security.
The entities are the members and managers of CropLife Ghana, the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana,the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG).
They said the delay had dire consequences for the sector which was already fragile due to global prices and increases in agricultural machinery and agro-inputs.
The phenomenon could lead to high cost of production and further worsen the food security situation in the country.
At a news conference called by the four groups in Accra, the Executive Director of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Dr Charles Nyaaba said, “most farmers in 2022 produced at a loss; some had to scale down their production and others sought alternative business.”
The situation, he said, led to low food supply, high food prices, contributing to a record high inflation of 54.1 per cent in December 2022 and this situation will be compounded if taxes are further imposed on agro-based products.
Stakeholders in the industry used the conference to highlight the impact of the current economic situation on the agricultural sector and the remedy to save the industry.
He called on the government and Parliament to take a swift look at the Exemptions Act and take steps to amend and specifically include agricultural goods and equipment in the list of exemptions.
“The decision to have agricultural commodities being considered as general goods and given discretion to a sector minister is a dangerous move which might not augur well for the sector,” he said.
For his part, the Executive Director of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana, Anthony Morrison, explained that farmers had about 20 days to the production season and should be having in stock more than 70 per cent of all agro input requirements.
He urged all stakeholders in the agric sector to rise and fight the tax being imposed on agro-inputs.
Speaking on behalf of the importers of Agro-Inputs, the Managing Director for Rainbow Agrosciences, David Ansong, said previously, the total expense on imported goods at the port was at a margin of five per cent, however, importers are currently paying between 20-25 per cent, a development which has increased the production of cost.
“Last year when the cost of Agro-inputs slightly moved up, we observed maize production was affected and a lot of farmers went into Soya beans and other things because the cost of production was low.
“This also has the repercussions of affecting the unemployment situation in the country because for instance if I import less containers, I will need less workers for work,” he said.