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Use part of SSNIT funds for agric - Ismael Yamson tells govt

Use part of SSNIT funds for agric - Ismael Yamson tells govt Featured

The Board Chairman of the Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP), Mr Ishmael Yamson, is urging government to use part of the pension contributions of workers to Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to  finance agriculture in the country.

He said the country had in the past, through SSNIT,  invested pension funds into real estate which was equally risky as agriculture and there was ,therefore, no reason not to invest in agriculture.

In an interview on July 5, Mr Yamson said, “we pay a lot of money to SSNIT every month and that capital was never ever invested in agriculture, whereas a lot of it went into real estate which is as risky as agriculture. We have an opportunity today because we have the National Pensions Authority, which is now channelling money.”

“I think that this is the time for government to say that out of your total portfolio, 10 or 15 per cent must be directed into agriculture. That would be my recommendation because we all have a responsibility to make agriculture safe for investments,” he added.  

Mr Yamson said the much talked about risk in agriculture financing was as a result of the absence of  insurance  for the peasant farmers, a reason most financial institutions were reluctant in extending credit to them.

“When you come to the individual peasant farmers that is where the risk begins. It starts because they don’t have agric insurance policy and in the past we didn’t have long-term capital. We had it, but it was all locked in SSNIT.”

Right  model

At the 40th anniversary symposium of the BOPP on the theme “BOPP – An agri-business model for national agricultural revolution”, Mr Yamson said getting the right agribusiness investment models would reduce the inherent risks in financing agriculture in the country.

He said the BOPP model, which had proved to be successful after 40 years, was an indication that investment in the sector was not too risky as was been portrayed.

The model in BOPP,  he said, was simply for the company to acquire the land and then give almost close to a third of the land back to the community so they could farm. It then re-allocated land to about 6000 farmers  and also guaranteed to buy the fruits from the farmers to be assured of a guaranteed  market. Proceeds were after used to pay the farmer’s debt.

“I know that it is very feasible when you have a large scale farming venture because it is easier to manage a large group of farmers. We can replicate this model in other areas as well,” he said.

Oil-centred mindset

He reiterated the fact that oil palm had the potential to transform the economy if much focus was given to it.

He said, currently, the focus on oil as the main driver of growth was unfortunate and there was therefore the need to rethink the national development strategy and focus on other areas of the economy that could drive growth.  — GB

Additional Info

  • Origin: graphic/GhAgent