Formerly one of the country’s breadbaskets, the Northern Region of Ghana suffers from widespread food insecurity and poverty. Only 10 percent of the region’s land area is currently cultivated, but there is great potential for the production of staple food crops such as rice and soybeans.
Agriculture in the region is largely rain-fed, causing production levels to vary according to weather conditions. Smallholder farmers have very limited access to improved seeds, quality fertilizers and the credit to purchase them. They also lack knowledge of proper crop and water management practices. Often, farmers are unable to sell the crops they have grown because of post-harvest losses and a shortage of storage and processing facilities.
To address these issues, the Agricultural Value Chain Mentorship Project (AVCMP) is contributing to the government’s objective of achieving food security and developing the region’s agricultural sector into an agro-industrial economy. The goal is to transform the agricultural value chain into a highly productive, efficient, competitive and sustainable system by strengthening the capacity of agro-dealers, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and farmer-based organizations (FBOs). Funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the three-year project (2011-2014) is targeting 34,000 smallholder farmers and 680 FBOs. AVCMP is an integral part of DANIDA’s Support to Private Sector Development Phase II program.
AVCMP is implemented by IFDC, the Ghana Agricultural Associations Business and Information Center (GAABIC) and the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI). IFDC’s role is to increase maize, rice and soybean farmers’ access to output markets by building the entrepreneurial and technical capacity of SMEs. This includes strengthening SMEs’ linkages with domestic, national and international markets, agro-dealers, agribusiness service providers, FBOs and farmers. IFDC is increasing SMEs’ access to credit and farmers’ access to storage facilities and processing services.
GAABIC is improving agro-dealers’ business management skills and their capacity to provide customers with fertilizers and seeds. SARI is training FBOs and their farmer-members in integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) and encouraging its widespread adoption.
Through the mentorship of stakeholders along the agricultural value chain, business growth and productivity are expected to continue after the project ends.
Key project activities include:
- Assisting FBOs, smallholder farmers, agro-dealers and SMEs to improve their entrepreneurial and technical skills, develop business plans and link to commercial banks to access capital through loans.
- Linking agro-dealers to fertilizer suppliers and seed producers and developing a network of agro-dealers and SMEs.
- Developing agribusiness clusters for provision of processing and cultivation equipment services.
- Linking SMEs and FBOs to domestic, regional and international markets.
- Creating awareness of ISFM technologies through radio programs, video, drama, print media and farmer learning centers.
- Capacity building of national institutions to support the scaling up of ISFM technologies.
IFDC Progress (July 1-December 31, 2011)
- 13 farmer field days were organized to showcase and evaluate new technologies at demonstration fields and farmer learning centers.
- Exchange visits were held for two rice farmer groups from Makango and Chishee to the Libi Farmer Learning Centre. The visitors evaluated various agro-technologies and chose at least one technology to utilize on their farms.
- Data was collected from 31 agro-dealers and analyzed to determine their training needs.
- Technical and business training was organized for 26 seed producers.
- AVCMP liaised with the Northern Ghana Agri-Input Dealers Association to begin the application process for 30 agro-dealers to benefit from the Stanbic loan fund.
- 20 agro-dealers were assisted in the development of business plans.
- Needs assessments and business gap identifications were conducted for 39 SMEs. 34 SMEs were profiled and their locations geo-referenced.
- The project collaborated with IFDC’s Linking Farmers to Markets project and other partners in Northern Ghana to organize a pre-harvest networking event involving farmers, aggregators, processors and other service providers.
Updated June 2012
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