The agriculture sector was the only sector of the economy that remained firm through the covid-19 pandemic, according to the results of the Agribusiness Tracker done by the Ghana Statistical Services and the United Nations Development Programme.

According to the Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, the survey found that around 33,000 agribusinesses were locked down during the lockdown period to prevent the epidemic from spreading.

This he however indicates has seen an improvement as about 70% of these affected businesses have been able to reopen after the lockdown, an indication that the sector is responding to interventions relative to other sectors of the economy.

“Agribusiness can be found in all sectors of the economy, so one has to be careful when comparing to industry and services sectors because it cuts across all the sectors. But when looking at agriculture on its own, relative to the other sectors as we indicate in our GDP releases, and Business Surveys, the agriculture sector was relatively resolute to the pandemic in terms of its impact as compared to other sectors. Thus if you look at its impact on the industry and services sector, they were more impacting relative to the agriculture sector” he said.

The survey results released by the GSS  funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), collected data from about 8,000 agribusinesses across Ghana.

The findings reveal an increase in the estimated number of job losses for agribusiness workers, from 51,111 during the lockdown to 78,412 in the post-lockdown period. In the same vein, workers with reduced wages increased from 175,255 during the lockdown period to 267,211 between May 2020 and January 2021.

“The Agribusiness Tracker builds on the COVID-19 Business Tracker and this is to enable us to compare the data over time. This way, we are better positioned to inform the government and key stakeholders of the changes over time. We believe this panel data will guide the implementation of the government’s GHȼ100 billion COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprise Support (Ghana CARES) Programme, seeking to enable the economy to recover”, noted Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim.

The United Nation’s Development Programme has endorsed the use of technology by the Ghana Statistical Service in its various surveys and applauded the work of the survey team.

“It is heartwarming to know that using digital technologies to transform data into action is at the heart of Ghana’s COVID-19 response and recovery. It will be important to consolidate this gain through the effective implementation of the National Data Roadmap process to ensure equity and the protection of more businesses”, emphasized Dr Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana. Meanwhile, the survey which covers all forms of agribusiness indicates that agriculture financing has seen an improvement of about 3% after the lockdown and it’s picking up marginally.