Author Archives: myaimreport

Ghana: Stakeholders collaborate to address deforestation and boost cocoa production

A stakeholders’ workshop to discuss measures to address deforestation and boost cocoa production in the Ahafo Region has been held at Goaso.

It was also to share and discuss outcomes of a study on socio – economic and ecological assessment of the Asunafo- Asutifi cocoa production area for clear understanding of risks, issues, challenges and opportunities for the development of a sustainable cocoa production landscape.

The workshop was jointly organized by Proforest, Forestry Commission, COCOBOD and World Cocoa Foundation, to provide a platform for the stakeholders to work together towards the development of a management and investment plan to address deforestation, low cocoa production, protection of forest reserves and promote climate smart agricultural activities in the area.

Over 80 representatives from Asunafo North Municipality, Asunafo South and Asutifi North Districts in the Ahafo Region, which have been designated as the Asunafo- Asutifi Hotspot Intervention Area (HIA) attended the workshop.

Dr. Augustus Asamoah, Principal Project Manager of Proforest speaking at the workshop, said Ghana was taking steps to address deforestation and its impact on cocoa production in cocoa producing areas through the Ghana cocoa forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP).

This programme, according to him, represented the largest fully- functional jurisdictional programme in Ghana that provided the framework for engaging multiple government institutions, private sector, civil society, traditional authorities and community representatives, to address key deforestation and forest degradation issues as well as community livelihood improvement, while building climate resilience in the cocoa sector.

Read also We are re-energizing our Smallholder Farmers the need to see Agriculture as a Business – CEO BEIT Farms

The Technical Advisor to Chief Executive of Forestry Commission ( FC), Dr. Kwakye Ameyaw, asked members in forest fringe communities to lead the fight against deforestation in the country’s forest reserves since it contributed to climate change and impacted negatively on cocoa production.

He said community members, especially farmers, had a critical role to play in fighting illegal operators in forest reserves by reporting them to the Commission for their arrest and prosecution.

Dr. Ameyaw, pointed out that the government alone cannot fight the menace unless community members who lived with the perpetrators took bold decisions to report them.

He said FC was working closely with all key stakeholders to address challenges in the sector to sustain the country’s forest.

Mr. Charles Sarpong Duah, Manager of the Climate Change Unit of the FC, appealed to traditional leaders and the media to take an active part in the campaign and educate the public on the negative impact of deforestation and the need to plant trees in their localities.

Dr. Shalom D. Addo Danso, Lead Consultant of KABSTREK Consult, said unsustainable agricultural activities, especially for cocoa and food crop production had been identified as one of the most important drivers of deforestation.

He mentioned ageing farmer population, ageing cocoa farms, land tenure issues, low involvement of the youth in cocoa production, excessive hunting, pollution of water bodies, illegal logging and farming in forest reserves, as some of the challenges facing cocoa production in the area.

Read also Ghanaian cashew farmers leverage technology to receive better prices

Dr. Addo Danso advocated for improved law enforcement by the Forestry Commission and other law enforcement agencies to reduce the impact of illegal activities in the forest to sustain key ecological, cultural and historical habitats.

He stressed on the need for a massive reforestation program to rehabilitate the forest reserves in the landscape.

Dr. Addo Danso also called for the training of farmer groups, traditional leaders and local government leaders to adopt beneficial and climate- smart cocoa farming to sustain production.

Mr. James Parker, Project Manager of Proforest, said outcomes from the workshop and follow-up actions would be used to finalize the management and investment plan for the Asunafo- AsutifiI HIA.

He said the development of the plans would be financed by UK aid through the Forest, Governance, Market and Climate (FGMC) program and eight cocoa buying companies, while its implementation would be done through the HIA governance structure, which had been established by Forestry Commission through Tropenbos International.

Ghanaian cashew farmers leverage technology to receive better prices

An increasing number of Ghanaian smallholder cashew farmers are getting better prices on their harvests, and reducing their operations expenses, thanks to the continued rollout of a smartphone app that gives them direct access to Olam Food Ingredients in Ghana.

The app empowers farmers to get prices directly from the company rather than from traditional buying agents, which yields not only higher prices for their cashews but cost savings on their expenses.

This can have significant positive impacts on farmers and their communities: if the average daily food budget for a typical household of five is Ghc14 Ghc15 (equivalent to $2.40 – $2.58), farmers using the app can receive funds worth another month of food.

It is one part of a robust, proprietary solution called ‘Olam Direct’, which was developed in-house to provide a variety of apps and tools to not only provide greater transparency on pricing, but access to inputs like better fertilizer use and farming advice such as insights on efficient land use to fight climate change.

The purchasing app was first piloted in 2018 and involved approximately 1,000 farmers and 125 tonnes of cashews. This year, over 5,400 farmers are participating and selling 3,100 tonnes, and Olam sees the number increasing to 8,000 tonnes in 2021.

“When we empower farmers to do better for themselves, whether through business operations or supporting their communities and environments, we all win,” said Mr. Anantharaman. Shekhar, CEO, Olam Food Ingredients.

“Olam Direct is a textbook example of using technology to disintermediate and transform a supply chain so that it works more efficiently and fairly.

“Sustainability depends on the health and success of farmers on whom our customers depend and working together, we can meet the increasing demands of consumers for food products that are not only natural but right for both planet and producer,” Mr. Shekhar said.

In addition, farmer participation in Olam Direct also provides the company’s customers with traceable and reliable visibility into their purchases (all transactions are geotagged and timestamped, with farmers’ consent) and delivered via its AtSource platform.

It is a core technology pillar for delivering Olam’s long-term vision to re-imagine agribusiness and food supply by focusing on empowering farmers and customers.

“Olam Direct, as a new and unique buying model, has equipped us to engage with cashew farmers directly and create a relationship which is beyond transactional nature,” said Mr. Amit Agrawal, Country Head of Olam Ghana Limited.

“Through it, we provide more transparency in price to farmers and help them appropriate better margins by disintermediating aggregators in the cashew supply chain. We also work with cashew farmers in the off-season providing them knowledge training, need-based farmer loans, and farming inputs,” Mr. Agrawal said.

Established in 1994, Olam Food Ingredient’s global cashew business has grown in Ghana through strong, year-round farmer relationships that extend beyond the harvest season; its training programmes in good agricultural practice encourage sustainability and over 30 programmes on 12 different relevant topics were delivered in 2019.

A programme to train 400 female farmers as beekeepers in the off-season already produced anecdotal increases in income of 15%.

Intriguingly, the programme’s success evidences a broader transformation of the sector: Almost half of the farmers benefiting from the Olam Direct programme are women and, as numerous studies find that they are responsible both for farm productivity and family health and well-being, it delivers direct and indirect benefits to entire communities.

Additionally, many of the buying agents have transitioned to become micro-collectors for its digital transactions, thereby creating new job opportunities, and Olam is pioneering organising individual farmers to form groups so they can have greater voices in the selling process, as well as receive equal treatment.

Olam Direct also empowers farmers to receive market information and alerts from Olam, ask questions directly via the app, and provide feedback or report issues to the company.

We are re-energizing our Smallholder Farmers the need to see Agriculture as a Business – CEO BEIT Farms

The Chief Executive Officer of BEIT Farms, Mr. Evans Larbi, is asking farmers across the African continent to see farming as a serious business.

The Chief Executive Officer believes that agriculture plays an important role when it comes to the economic development of this continent.

“The continent has some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world, so why are we still importing junk foods into our continent” he quizzed.

The Chief Executive Officer made these remarks in an interview with this reporter, at the Africa Smallholder Farmers Summit 2020 with the theme; “Creating jobs for African Women and Youth through smallholder farming”.

The summit brought together participants from Ghana and other Africa countries here in Accra.

The summit was organized by BEIT Farms Ghana in collaboration with the University of Ghana (Agric Department), Ag-INNOVATE, and Ghana Association of Agricultural Economist (GAAE).

Read also Bigmanism: A canker destroying local businesses

Mr. Larbi pointed out that unlocking the country’s agricultural potential will create jobs as well as providing enough food for domestic supply, adding that the task was made more urgent by the vast sums spent on food imports, with Africa spending an annual total of about US$35bn.

However, a change in strategy will be necessary in order to achieve this goal, Larbi added. “Agriculture must cease being treated as a development programme; agriculture must henceforth be treated as a business,” the CEO said.

Chief Executive Officer for Okata Farms Mrs. Mabel Akoto Kwudzo and 2017 second national best farmer believes that there needs to be a comprehensive repositioning of agriculture among the nation’s youth, including how it is presented in the school system and, by extension, viewed by society as a lesser career choice.

Read also 40,000 young people in Nigeria to benefit from Young Africa Works-IITA Project Training Programme

Mrs. Kwudzo said that along with creating a youth in agriculture policy, which would address some of the long-standing issues that face the youth in agriculture such as access to land and funding for agriculture, marketing and information about the industry, the issue of how agriculture is taught in schools will also have to be addressed.

“There also has to be a bigger approach and a bigger rethink, and a part of that rethink will have to start in our education sector,” she said.

Read also Making Good Money From Tomato Production, Cost-Benefit Analysis

The 2020 Best Farmer, Youth in Agriculture for the Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern Region underscored the urgency for consistent advocacy on the challenges confronting smallholder farmers and entreated the media to mainstream the sector in the national agenda.

Read also Next NDC government to establish farmers’ mechanisation centres

“Agriculture is not a secondary profession. It’s not a fallback profession. It is not something you do if you don’t have anything else to do. We need agriculture to be given pride of place in our education curriculum and not just to be taught to our students on the basis of primary agriculture,” she also said.

EcoCare Ghana back campaign to secure equitable income for cocoa farmers in Africa

Managing Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana, Mr. Obed Owusu-Addai, and his organization has thrown their support behind the ongoing “Securing Equitable Living Income for Cocoa Farmers campaign” that’s seeking to eliminate extreme poverty among cocoa farmers in West Africa and across the region.

Mr. Owusu-Addai says the struggle to eliminate extreme poverty among cocoa farmers in West Africa and across the region is a duty of all and not just the Ghana Cocoa Board and Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).

“We must clarify the regulatory frameworks governing cocoa production and trade, and engage relevant stakeholders to discuss and develop concrete workable strategies and roadmaps to address pricing challenges in the cocoa sector; with emphasis on guaranteeing sustainable cocoa production,” he noted.

The Managing Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana made these remarks at an International Cocoa conference with the theme; “Securing Equitable Living Income for Cocoa Farmers”.

The two days’ conference brought together participants from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and through the power of technology stakeholders in Europe through online platform called zoom here in Accra.

Read also 40,000 young people in Nigeria to benefit from Young Africa Works-IITA Project Training Programme

The conference was organized by EcoCare Ghana in collaboration with ClientEarth, TaylorCrabbe Initiative, Fern and Ghana Civil-society Cocoa Platform (GCCP).

The conference is funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development’s (DfID) Forest Governance, Markets and Climate (FGMC) Programme.

Mr. Owusu-Addai pointed out that Cocoa is a very important agro-commodity in West Africa, contributing significantly to the socio-economic well-being of many households in the sub-region.

“ECOWAS member countries accounted for about 68% of global cocoa supply in 2019/2020 cocoa season, out of global production of 5 million tonnes in the 2019/2020 cocoa season of which 3.4 million tonnes were harvested from West Africa alone” he revealed.

Read also Adopt multiple approaches when training farmers – Farmerline

He said that, according to figures from the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO); Africa’s cocoa-producing countries capture just 3% of global chocolate industry revenue.

“Although Côte d’Ivoire produced 2.1 million tonnes of cocoa in 2017 (44% of global output), it brought in just $3.3bn from trade in an industry valued at $103.3bn in 2017” he indicated.

According to him, the recent cocoa barometer report, which depicts the distribution of the cocoa sector profits along its value chain, observed that unfair distribution of value and power in the cocoa value chain are part of the root causes of extreme poverty for cocoa farmers in West Africa.

He added that the cocoa supply chain is increasingly dominated by a select group of large corporations where mergers and takeovers have resulted in just a few companies dominating up to 80% of the whole value chain, while farmers lack a sufficiently organised voice to be strong actors.

“Almost all West African cocoa farmers live well below globally defined poverty levels. In Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa a farmer should earn four times his current income in order to reach the global poverty line of $2 a day.

“Despite all the efforts in cocoa at the moment, the core of the problem is still not being addressed; the extreme poverty of cocoa farmers, and their lack of a voice in the debate” he said.

Read also Cocoa farmers poised to increase production

The Secretary, National Board of Directors of WCFO Ghana Chapter, Moses Djan Asiedu, recommended more training on good agricultural practices and concerted extension services to support sustainable cocoa production and improves the farmer’s lot.

The Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) Coordinator Sandra Sarkwah underscored the urgency for consistent advocacy on the challenges confronting cocoa growers and entreated the media to mainstream the cocoa sector in the national agenda.

“The cocoa advocacy initiative must be guided by the national interest to engender a holistic improvement at the various stages of the cocoa value chain for the benefit of players and the economy in general,” she said.

40,000 young people in Nigeria to benefit from Young Africa Works-IITA Project Training Programme

In May this year, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to start the Young Africa Works-IITA Project, an innovative approach to agribusiness training and start-up for Nigeria’s young people.

This project was developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators, and entrepreneurs as part of the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people in Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work over the next 10 years.

In Nigeria, Young Africa Works aims to see 10 million young people, most of them women, in dignified work opportunities by 2030.

In line with this strategy, Young Africa Works IITA-project is designed to advance agribusiness opportunities to over 40,000 Nigerian young women and men with a special focus on skills development, decent employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities to secure work in agri-food value chains for the next five years.

“Agriculture is among the most viable potential source of employment for young people in Africa,” said Chidinma Lawanson, Country Head for Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation.

Read also Next NDC government to establish farmers’ mechanisation centres

Chidinma added, “We are excited to see how our Young Africa Works partnership with IITA will make the agricultural sector more attractive to young people, particularly women by providing skills training in the agriculture value chain for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.”

To kick off project activities, IITA has launched a call for application to young women and men between the age of 18 and 35 years living in Lagos, Kano, and Kaduna.

This training focuses on agribusiness development that will provide young people an opportunity to grow their businesses through coaching and mentoring and learn modern farming and value addition techniques.

Young people will also be exposed to agriculture product marketing skills, market linkages, and career orientation through job placements and internship opportunities.

These skills can bridge the gap in establishing viable agribusiness enterprises between youth and potential employers in the agricultural sector.

Read also Adopt multiple approaches when training farmers – Farmerline

It gives young women — 70 percent of all participants — a special opportunity to enhance their participation and adopt entrepreneurship.

In highlighting women’s participation, the training and the project seek to create productive partnerships between young men and women and apply a gender-based approach to address some of the challenges faced by young women in the agribusiness sector in Nigeria.

Participants will acquire business and soft skills that will facilitate their integration into the professional field and this year’s training will cover the following value chains: maize, soybean, rice, horticulture, orange fleshed sweet potato, groundnut, aquaculture, and poultry.

“There will be no development in Nigeria without the youth. The best way to end poverty is to create opportunities, and this is what this project is all about.

“By creating career opportunities and youth-led enterprises, we are planting a seed of change for the next generation. It is in this line that the Young Africa Works-IITA project was developed by the youth, for the youth, and with the youth,” said Aline Mugisho, Executive Manager, Young Africa Works-IITA project.

Read also Making Good Money From Tomato Production, Cost-Benefit Analysis

To start an application, please visit http://www.youthagripreneurs.org/young-africa-works-iita.

Contact: 09062081803, 09062081804, 09020957065 youngafricaworks-iita@cgiar.org

Applications are open from 12 November until 12 December 2020.

About IITA, http://www.iita.org

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a not-for-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.

Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, we improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity.

IITA is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.

Read also Want to venture into Okra Production? Here is simple Costs and Benefits analysis

About the Mastercard Foundation, http://www.mastercardfdn.org

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work.

It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world.

The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.

Adopt multiple approaches when training farmers – Farmerline

The Head of Partner and Farmer Engagement at Farmerline Company, Madam Lily Akorfa Keledorme, has suggested the use of a blended approach to train farmers to adopt appropriate farming practices.

She said a lean data study conducted by Farmerline on the effectiveness of training models for farmers found that a combination of multiple training modalities proved more impactful in influencing farmer behaviour compared to the adoption of a single training technique.

In the study, titled: “Impactful Farmer Education Models: A Lean Data Study,” Farmerline assessed the adoption rate, cost-effectiveness, and scalability of a series of training models, including in-person training, talking books, and mobile voice messages.

Addressing a virtual conference in Accra, Madam Keledorme explained that a series of training modalities were randomly deployed to 114 farmers from five communities within the Ashanti Region.

The conference, organised by Farmerline in collaboration with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), was on the theme: “Influencing farmer behaviour change: Relevant lessons for the new normal.”

The training focused on post-harvest planning and business management comprising bookkeeping, budgeting and saving.

Madam Keledorme said in spite of the enormous contribution of the agriculture sector to the economy and the survival of the citizenry, studies conducted across farming communities pinpointed low levels of formal education and financial literacy among farmers.

Read also Cocoa farmers see boost in production after applying Omya Calciprill

The development, she noted, largely accounted for the inability of farmers to secure the right profits and returns from their toil.

She said although a number of training models had been executed by the Government, development partners and private organisations to respond to the issue, there were emerging technologies that needed to be considered and used, hence the study by Farmerline.

“We sought to discern ways we could help farmers earn better profits by influencing behaviour changes and to use such methods to shape the delivery and structure of our training programmes,” Madam Keledorme said.

“Our focus was to help farmers increase their knowledge on post-harvest planning activities, especially in business management so they can budget and plan for the next season, including doing bookkeeping, revenue and profit calculations, savings and reinvestment of capital.”

Read also Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana distributes relief items to vulnerable farmers

Madam Keledorme said the study revealed that a good blend of in-person training and digital tools, when used rightly, would make a significant impact on farmers for behaviour change.

She indicated that although all the models had specific advantages that made them useful, they all had shortfalls, which made them inapplicable in some situations.

“The individual models were effective to some extent but we established that a blended approach of training farmers and a continuous engagement increases adoption,” she said.

Madam Keledorme said the adoption of digital tools had become more significant, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic where physical engagement between trainers and farmers had become minimal.

She, however, urged facilitators and development organisations to consider the training content and objective to determine the ideal digital tools to employ.

Read also Next NDC government to establish farmers’ mechanisation centres

“One of the takeaways of this study is that digital tools will play a significant role in enforcing behaviour change beyond COVID-19 and it is important for us to work collectively to improve the welfare of farmers,” she said.

Famerline helps in transforming smallholder farmers into successful entrepreneurs by increasing their access to information, inputs and resources to increase productivity.

Next NDC government to establish farmers’ mechanisation centres

According to the Presidential Candidate of National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Dramani Mahama, the next NDC government will establish farmers’ mechanisation centres in all farming districts to boost productivity.

“There is good news for farmers. We are going to open what we call farmers’ mechanisation centres,” he said this at a mini rally at Binduri in the Upper East Region.

Mr Mahama explained that in every farming district, interested farmers would have to register with the Centre adding: “We are going to put enough tractors, ploughs, harrows, and boom sprayers. Every machine you need to work with will be in the service centre. And so if you go and register it means you are a member of the centre.”

He added, “When you need a tractor to plough or to harrow, or to spray your crops, or even after you’ve harvested your maize or your millet, you need them to bring a thresher to thresh your maize or millet, they will bring it and do it for you.”

“You don’t need to pay immediately. What they will do is they will record the cost and when you finish harvesting and sell your crops then you can pay for it.”

Read also Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana distributes relief items to vulnerable farmers

He noted also that the staff would go round to inspect farm lands to assess how many acres farmers owned to ensure they were able to access the services when the farming season begun.

Mr Mahama said the allocation of machines to the centres will be based on the crop processing zones in the country.

Read also NDC to streamline fishery sector to benefit industry players – John Mahama

The centres will be processing the crops for both the local market and possibly for export, he said, adding that it would provide a lot of jobs for young people.

The NDC Presidential Candidate said his government would embark on a big afforestation programme nationwide, especially in the Savannah areas, to grow trees.

Read also Cocoa farmers poised to increase production

“And so we are going to employ a lot of you young people in forestry. And then you are going to plant the trees and you are going to make sure that the trees grow,” he said.

Mr Mahama said those engaged in the programme would be given tricycles to water the trees during the dry seasons until they were able to stand on their own.

“And we will pay you for doing that. We will give you a monthly salary for growing those trees.”

Read also NDC will institute Cashew Board — Mahama Assure Farmers

Mr Mahama is being accompanied on his four-day tour of the Upper East Region by leading members of the Party, including Professor Joshua Alabi, National Campaign Manager, Alhaji Sofo Azorka, a National Vice Chairman; Alhaji Mumuni Bolnaba, Upper East Regional Chairman; Mr Cletus Avoka, NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Zebilla and Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central.

Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana distributes relief items to vulnerable farmers

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has donated food relief items to 400 vulnerable people and some farmers whose farms were destroyed during the floods.

The items which cost GH 100,000 were funded by Oxfam Ghana, a Non- Governmental Organization and included; 200 maxi bags of paddy rice and 50 cartons (5 litter) Frytol [cooking oil] distributed to the beneficiaries in the Bongo district, Bolgatanga Municipal, Talensi district, Nabdam district, Kassena Nankana East and Kassena Nankana West districts, Binduri districts, and Bawku West district as well as the Mamprugu-Moagduri district.

Mr Abdul Rahman, National President of PFAG in a statement before the presentation of the items to the beneficiaries in Bolgatanga, reiterated the challenges small holder farmers suffered during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and impact of the lockdown.

Read also Making Good Money From Tomato Production, Cost-Benefit Analysis

Recounting the challenges, the President said farmers inability to sell their perishable commodities during the lock down leading to post- harvest losses, their inability to access farm inputs and services such as mechanization services , fertilizer, extension services and access to credit culminating into low productivity , and the torrential rains that led to the floods and consequent food insecurity in the region had been a source of worry.

According to the President, PFAG had earlier within the year presented relief items to victims of floods worth GHS5,000 and also undertook training for 400 extension Officers and on COVID- 19, it supplied PPE , supported by International Budget Partnership to some District Health Directorates and members of the association.

Read also Cocoa farmers poised to increase production

Whilst thanking Oxfam Ghana, he urged other benevolent individuals and organizations in and outside Ghana to support small holder farmers.

women were crucial especially those whose activities were key to poverty alleviation and economic development and were seriously impacted by COVID-19 and climate change.

Mr Hafiz Muntaka, Programme Manager for Economic Justice of OXFAM Ghana, urged the beneficiaries to strictly observe the COVID-19 19 protocols to prevent infection and another wave of the pandemic.

He noted that his outfit collaborated and supported in the promotion of the protocols with PPE to a number of organizations on safety measures under COVID-19 including Partners in Rural Development (PARID) among others.

Read also Ghana: Encroachers, erosion put 150 fish landing sites in danger

Mr Adongo Awaya , Mr Asanga Adibga, both visually impaired beneficiaries and Madam Aboriya Asunia, all from Nyariga expressed gratitude to PFAG and the sponsors for coming to their aid with the relief items and prayed for the continuous support for other communities in similar need.

Cocoa farmers poised to increase production

It was just three years ago that Mr Emmanuel Eyisi, a member of Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union (CCP) in the Suhum Kraboa Coaltar District had his six-acre cocoa farm ravaged by indiscriminate bush fires.

He had invested all his resources and his cocoa trees had pods nearing maturity and harvest. Mr Eyisi’s situation reflects what many members of CCP experienced year after year until a BUSAC Fund supported training brought a ray of hope.

A Business Development Services (BDS) training sponsored by the BUSAC Fund equipped them with bushfire prevention and farm restoration techniques.

Traditionally, farming techniques have been passed down from one generation to the other. As such, many farmers had limited knowledge and were not privy to new technology and farming techniques. This resulted in low productivity and loss of cocoa farms to bush fires.

According to the Ghana Cocoa Board, cocoa production is a major economic activity undertaken by more than 800,000 farmers in Ghana. It is also a major contributor to the government’s revenue and gross domestic production. Improving farm management can help boost farm productivity and revenue to the tune of two billion dollars in foreign exchange annually.

The BDS training programme introduced members of CCP to methods of dealing with declining soil fertility, control of pests and diseases that attacks cocoa trees. It is estimated that pests and diseases contribute to about 30-40 percent loss of the crop.

Right after the training program, the leadership of association set up a fifteen-member fire task force to educate farmers on bush fires at the beginning of the lean season. The fire task force was also empowered to surcharge any person found culpable.

A member’s Cocoa farm

“The results have been phenomenal because farmers have recorded no incidences of bush fires after practicing the preventive measures they were taught,” Mr. Emmanuel Eyisi, a member of CCP said. They have built fire belts to prevent fire from neighboring farms from ravaging their farms.

Read also Ghana: Encroachers, erosion put 150 fish landing sites in danger

He adds that because of the modern farming techniques and management skills adopted by the cocoa farmers, the loss of cocoa farms are things of the past. “Members are now able to spot the initial stages of pest infestation. They take samples and send them to the Ghana Cocoa Board for the appropriate spraying to be done.

“The production capacity of my farm has more than doubled. In the last season, I got 10 (100 KG) bags instead of three bags. This is a real sustainable method of farming. My farm is looking clean and healthy now”, he disclosed.

Already Mr Eyisi plans to start the foundation of a new building project with a portion of the proceeds, give part to his wife as capital to start a business, and pay his children’s school fees.

Like many others, Madam Matilda Mante another beneficiary of the BUSAC Fund BDS training programme has recorded similar production increase.

“I have currently harvested three (100 KG) bags and I still have some pods which will be ready by December 2019. Part of this money will go towards my daughter’s Junior High Education. I will also save some for my farm and my fish business, and be able to provide a decent meal for my family during Christmas,” she added.

Read also Making Good Money From Tomato Production, Cost-Benefit Analysis

The association has also seen growth in its membership. According to Mr Godfred Larbi, the President of CCP, membership has increased from 35 to 60. The new members testified that they were impressed with how well organized the group had become.

Ghana Cocoa Board has recently assigned a new extension officer to the group. Today, members of CCP are invited to participate in stakeholder engagement and refresher training courses.

To become more efficient, the group has acquired two spraying machines, two motorized pruners, two manual pruners and a Knapsack sprayer to provide services to farmers.

Experts say aside cocoa being one of the few crops that has a ready market; it is also a good prospector for Ghana’s attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) 15, which seeks to, among other things, help countries sustainably manage forests.

Read also Cocoa farmers see boost in production after applying Omya Calciprill

BUSAC Fund’s BDS Facility

The Business Development Services facility under BUSAC III helps Private Sector Organisations (PSOs), and Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) identify the capacity gaps, and skill needs of their members and address those needs with the assistance of certified BDS providers.

The PSOs, with the guidance of BDS providers, prepare training and coaching modules for their members. These modules address specific skill gaps to enable business entities to operate more efficiently and profitably.

With funding from Development Partners DANIDA and USAID, the BUSAC Fund’s BDS facility supports training on modules and topics within BUSAC Fund’s priority areas of Sustainable Agriculture, Trade, Cost of Doing Business, Green Growth and Human Rights-Based Approach.

Over 140 business associations have been able to provide capacity-building services to their members through the Fund’s BDS facility.

Ghana: Encroachers, erosion put 150 fish landing sites in danger

A research initiated by Friends of the Nation (FoN), a social-environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has revealed that about half of the 300 fish landing sites across the country are in danger as they face encroachment from developers and erosion.

The research noted that the current encroachment and sale of lands along landing sites due to the high demand of beach land for hospitality facilities are affecting fishing activities and likely to adversely impact the livelihoods of an estimated 1.5 million people.

As a result, FoN is pushing government and the relevant state agencies to put in systems and policies to effectively enhance operations of fishermen by securing these landing sites from further destruction.

FoN’s Programmes Manager, Kwadwo Kyei Yamoah told the B&FT that: “Landing sites are very important because when you go fishing, you need a location to land the canoe, process and smoke the fish. You also need land to keep and repair your canoe and even keep your items so fish landing sites are keep components of the fishery industry.

However, we have come to the realization that in a lot of areas the fish landing sites are being sold off to hospitality businesses and in the Western Region specifically, to real estate developers who wish to produce beachfront development for the growing oil and gas industry.”

Mr. Yamoah made this known at a two-day workshop on fish landing site mapping and securing, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation (UN) in partnership with Friends of the Nation (FoN) and the Far Ban Bo project.

According to Mr. Yamoah, “our intervention is to collectively engage stakeholders from the local government and district assemblies. We also have stakeholders from the Lands Commission, the Land Use Planning Authority, traditional leaders, fisher folk and others including the Fisheries Commission.

“What we are doing is to collate recommendations and road maps that will help us streamline the securing of fish landing sites to ensure that they are properly demarcated, mapped, documented and given legal approval,” he added.

In some cases of erosion destroying some sites, Mr. Yamoah added that stakeholders are working to identify future area that these fisherfolks can use for their landing sites.

“We can then secure these areas in advance so that they are not sold off. When these landing site are gone there are no alternative area to land their fish, so this is the sort of intervention that we are providing,” he said.

He noted that there would be a strong advocacy to back the work of the stakeholders to ensure concrete solutions found.

He said, “After this stakeholder dialogue we will also be engaging government to ensure that we have policy backing to ensure that the landing sites are properly demarcated, marked and secured.”

Credit: B&FT

Cocoa farmers see boost in production after applying Omya Calciprill

Cocoa farmers in the Western Region are gradually seeing a boost in cocoa production following the introduction of Omya Calciprill to tackle soil acidity on their cocoa farms.

Some of the farmers who testified after using Omya Calciprill explained the improvements in the leaves of cocoa trees for better and increased yields after applying Omya Calciprill to the soil a year ago.

The farmers gave their testimonies during a two-day training seminar for the Seed Production Division (SPD) of COCOBOD at Kejebril and Wassa Akropong, both in the Western Region, about the importance of Calciprill and the effects of acidic soils on cocoa last Wednesday.

Speaking to the media at the seminar, Mr. Samuel Asare Ankamah – Western South CHED Regional Manager, explained that applying Omya Calciprill to the soil will help boost soil quality and cause an increase in yield for farmers in the region.

Read also Unlocking Africa’s ‘Value Added’ industrial potential, stories of women and men in this drive

According to Mr. Ankamah, Western South is the hub of cocoa farming – hence there is a need to ensure good farm practices, such as soil rehabilitation, to ensure high-yield cocoa production in the region and country at large.

Facilitator for the training, Mr. Daniel Attivor – an agronomist for Omya West Africa, stated that the training was to help farmers understand that acidic soils with low PH will hinder effectiveness of fertilisers applied until they neutralise soil – which is what the application of Calcipril gives.

Mr. Attivor noted that it is important for farmers to know the nature of their soil with the help of Extension Officers before applying fertilizer, in order to get the required production level.

Read also IFC partners with Agricultural Bank of Egypt to promote farmers’ switch to solar irrigation systems

Operations Manager of Demeter Ghana, Mr. Nick Parish, on his part stated that they are happy to be part of the project and will continue supporting farmers with products needed to boost production in the country.

This is the second training seminar held for farmers in the region after renewal of the partnership between the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Beft Agro Consult Limited, distributor of fertilisers in Ghana.

Facilitator for the training, Mr. Daniel Attivor – an agronomist for Omya West Africa

To help promote the message of soil-acidity and the importance of Calciprill, Beft Agro Ltd. will be aided by Demeter Ghana Ltd., a specialist agricultural company.

Studies have shown that soil-acidity is one of the major constraints in cocoa cultivation and has a bearing on the levels of key nutrients, such as Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus, in the soil – leading to low cocoa yields and thereby affecting farmers adversely.

Read also Making Good Money From Tomato Production, Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), over a two-year testing period and subsequent distribution, have proven that Omya Calciprill can boost yields by 70 percent.

A section of participant during the workshop

Omya Calciprill is a high-quality soil conditioner from Germany that is used to rid soils of acidity, leading to increased yields as well as improved crop quality.

Beft Agro Limited producers of Omya Calcipril have worked closely with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and COCOBOD for many years toward ensuring excellence in crop and cocoa production

Making Good Money From Tomato Production, Cost-Benefit Analysis

Tomato is mostly produced in eleven out of the 16 regions in Ghana. These production regions include Upper East, Northern, North East, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern, Greater Accra, Oti and Volta Regions.

The tomato sector in Ghana has failed to reach its potential, in terms of attaining yields comparable to other countries, in terms of the ability to sustain processing plants, and in terms of improving the livelihoods of those households involved in tomato production and the tomato commodity chain.

Despite government interventions that include effort to establish a number of tomato processing factories, tomatoes of the right quality and quantity for commercial agroprocessing are not being grown.

Many farmers still prefer to plant local varieties, typically with a high water content, many seeds, poor color, and low brix. Land husbandry practices are often suboptimal.

Average yields remain low, typically under ten tons per hectare. Because of production seasonality, high perishability, poor market access, and competition from imports, some farmers are unable to sell their tomatoes, which are left to rot in their fields.

Yet other farmers in Ghana have achieved higher tomato yields, production is profitable, and many farmers in Ghana continue to choose to grow tomatoes over other crops. One of the key issues for tomato farmers in Ghana is high per-unit input costs.

When farmgate prices are high, this is not such a concern for individual farmers—farmers in Greater Accra, for
example, incur large irrigation costs while yields remain low to grow for the off-season when prices are more likely to be high.

But when farmgate prices are low and variable, as is often the case for rained farmers who plant according to the rains and accordingly typically all harvest at a similar time, reducing per unit input costs is essential.

Further, for tomato processing to be competitive in Ghana, average per unit production costs need to be considerably lower so that farmers can sell their tomatoes profitably at the low but guaranteed prices offered by processors.

To go into tomato farming first, you need to have an idea about tomato production steps and processes. If you can get those right then you are on your way to making good money from tomato production.

Mind you, pests and weeds are major threats to realizing your income after spending so much. Now let’s put some figures down and work around it.

Operational Budget/Ha/Yr (2020)

ActivityCost (GHS)
Land rent300.00
Land preparation600.00
Seeds(100g x 4)240.00
Fertilizer & manure3,630.00
Agrochemical100.00
Labour3,500.00
Estimated total cost8,370.00

Yield

Yield varies greatly with cultivar and adherence to good agricultural practices. Yields of up to 35-40 tons/ha are achievable.

Market requirement

The fruit should be firm and free from blemishes or any damage.

Revenue

Average yield/ha = 40 tons = 40,000 kg

Percentage loss of 10%

Available yield = 90/100 × 40,000 = 36,000 kg

Packaging in 36,000 kg/52 kg = 692.3 boxes

Farm gate price/52 kg box = GHS20.00

Income = 692 boxes x GHS20 = GHS13,840.00

Net income = GHS13,840.00 – GHS8,370.00

                     = GHS5,470.00

Note:

  • This budget does not include fixed cost and overheads.
  • Price of tomatoes has been quoted conservatively. You can get higher prices depending on the time and location.

IFC partners with Agricultural Bank of Egypt to promote farmers’ switch to solar irrigation systems

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and the Agricultural Bank of Egypt (ABE) have partnered to help Egyptian farmers access financing to purchase solar irrigation systems, reduce their dependence on diesel-powered generators and boost their productivity.

IFC is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset-management services to encourage private-sector development in less developed countries.

Through the partnership, IFC will help ABE build capacity and design new financial products to enable Egyptian farmers, most of whom do not have direct access to grid electricity, to purchase and instal solar irrigation pumps.

Using solar power to pump water could potentially save farmers an estimated 14 billion Egyptian pounds (US$875mn) per year in diesel fuel costs, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

ABE serves four million farmers in Egypt and is one of the country’s largest banks.

Sami Abdel Sadek, deputy chairman of the Agricultural Bank of Egypt, said, “Expanding the use of solar energy technology among farmers is part of our strategy to support agricultural and rural development in Egypt.

“It will also contribute to the country’s 2030 strategy to encourage agricultural investments and rationalise the use of resources, including energy, in the sector.”

Walid Labadi, IFC country manager for Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, said, “Our partnership with ABE will help provide clean energy to farmers at an affordable cost, while helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Supporting the development of renewable energy and expanding access to finance are priorities for IFC in Egypt.”

The partnership is part of IFC’s wider advisory work to strengthen Egypt’s clean technology sector and support entrepreneurship in the country.

Unlocking Africa’s ‘Value Added’ industrial potential, stories of women and men in this drive

From oil to cocoa, cotton to vanilla, Africa is rich in natural resources but its heavy dependence on commodity exports means it has yet to take full advantage of the added value that processing raw materials and manufacturing can bring.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is working to change this by promoting successful industrial policies, attracting funding to infrastructure and industry and supporting the growth of capital markets to create quality employment that alleviates poverty.

The last decade has seen progress, with manufacturing growth in Africa outpacing the global growth rate. In 2019, Africa’s industrial GDP expanded by 17% to $731 billion (in 2010 dollars), with the value-added of manufacturing surging by 39%, according to the AfDB’s 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER).

But Africa’s industrialisation is geographically limited, with around two-thirds of value-added manufacturing taking place in just five nations: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.

This year, progress has been reversed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended economic growth, disrupted trade and financial flows and triggered losses of millions of jobs.

The economic and social impact of the pandemic has injected more urgency into the drive to industrialise Africa, just as the African Continental Free Trade Area is set to reshape the continent into a singular market of 2.5 billion people by 2050.

As the African Development Bank joins the international community to mark Industrialization Day, some stories of women and men turning the tables on Africa’s industrialisation front merit all our attention.

Africa Industrialisation Day, which fell on Friday November 20, mobilizes the commitment of the international community to the continent’s industrialisation and gives us the opportunity to reflect on the AfDB’s impact in this sector, one of its High 5 priorities.

Just outside Cairo, the Egyptian Refining Company (ERC), a greenfield petroleum refinery, is one of the largest industrial units of its kind in Africa.

With nearly $222 million in funding from the Bank, the refinery converts the lowest-value fuel into 4.7 million tons of refined products and high-quality oil derivatives per year, meeting domestic consumption needs, cutting emissions from dirty fuels and reducing Egypt’s balance of payment deficit.

The huge project created more than 15,000 jobs at peak construction and 1,000 permanent local job opportunities.

“From day one they were able to see that this project, which has been 12 years in the making, was going to have a transformative effect on Egypt’s economy,” said Ahmed Heikal, chairman and founder of ERC’s parent company, Qalaa Holdings.

In 2019, 1 million people across Africa benefited from the Bank’s industrial investee projects. Turnover from Bank investments in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) almost trebled, reaching $1 billion and far exceeding targets.

Read also Want to venture into Okra Production? Here is simple Costs and Benefits analysis

Some of the best opportunities for Africa’s industrialization lie in agriculture. Crucial to this sector is the Bank’s support of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs), which strengthen African countries’ ability to attract private sector investment by bringing policy, investment and infrastructure together, usually in a rural area with high agricultural output.

Take South Africa, where the Bank is supporting the development of 22 SAPZs. One of them, Bokomoso Ba Rona SAPZ, aims to rehabilitate an area and develop a post-mining economy on a 30,000-hectare site owned by mining company Sibanye-Stillwater.

“We are aiming to attract private sector investment, which will drive agro-processing and build a strong value chain,” said Noxolo Mtembu, Project Manager at the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency, which is responsible for developing the SAPZ.

Africa’s emerging connectivity and a workforce increasingly familiar with the digital world and new technologies will make it possible for the continent to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution to improve productivity, create jobs, and extend social welfare.

New industries have transformed the fabric of local economies, for example in Nabeul, in north-eastern Tunisia, once most famous as a craft and tourist centre.

Read also Want to start a farm? Here is detailed steps on how to plan and start

Now Nabeul is becoming as well known for its high-tech industries. With financing from the Bank, the MEDIS pharmaceutical laboratory was established to produce generic medicines, creating thousands of skilled jobs and becoming one of the region’s biggest employers.

The laboratory has provided formal, secure jobs for many who otherwise would have been confined to informal work or unemployment.

“My job with MEDIS has given me freedom and dignity. I’m not asking for a handout and I’m not asking anything of anyone,” said employee Sabra Gmati.

“If MEDIS or a business like it wasn’t in Nabeul, I’d be unemployed and I would stay at home.”

Credit: afdb.org

Want to venture into Okra Production? Here is simple Costs and Benefits analysis

Okra production

Okra production is a very profitable farming business, especially during the periods of low rainfall. Farmers take advantage of lowlands to cultivate okra during this period.

We are not just saying it is profitable. We take you through the very current 1ha okra production costs and benefits.

Note: 1hectare = 2.5 acres

Operational Budget/Ha/Yr (2020)

ActivityCost(Ghc)
Land rent375.00
Land preparation600.00
Seeds600.00
Fertilizer and manure2,540.00
Pesticides200.00
Labour3600.00
Total estimated cost7,915.00

Revenue from 1ha Okra Production

Average fruit yield/ha = 12 tons

=12,000 kg

Percentage loss of 5%

Available yield for market

= 95/100×12,000kg = 11400kg

Packaging in 6 kg box = 11400/6 kg =1900 boxes

Farm gate price/6 kg = Ghc10

Income = 1900×10= Ghc 19,000.00

Net income = Ghc 19,000 – 7,915.00 = Ghc 11,085

Note: This budget does not include fixed cost and overheads.

Ghana’s yam exports may crash if poor quality is not checked – Exporter cries

The use of fertilisers and chemicals such as weedicides, herbicides and pesticides is becoming dominant in agriculture in Ghana and the yam sector is no exception, the sad part is the reckless application of these chemicals, which compromises the quality and the shelf life even before the arrival of the produce on the world market.

For this, some yam exporters in the country have decried the continuous decline in the quality of yam for the export market.

Many yam exporters have lost quite huge investments in the trade especially with the “Puna” yam variety this year. They say most of the yams exported get rotten before the consignment reaches its destination.

An exporter with over 12 years export experience, Mr. William Safo Ayeh, has complained that the reckless application of chemicals to yam produce in Ghana is becoming a great concern to exporters as most of their yam exports are rejected before reaching their destination, especially Europe.

Mr. Ayeh who is also a member of the Ghana Assorted Food Exporters Association (GAFEA) added that the situation is affecting their investment and subsequent revenue the government would have accrued if the yam exportation was booming as before.

“An exporter can spend Gh¢ 100.000.00 to export a 40 ft container of yam and when quarter or half of the produce gets rotten, how can we get our investment back.” He wonders.

“We started exporting Yam to Europe, UK to be specific since 2006, the quality then was very good. The farmers then did not apply chemicals to their produce and this enabled the yam to last longer.

“As time goes by, the farmers we buy from started introducing chemicals such as weedicides, herbicides to spray the farm instead of employing labour to weed their farms.

“What is worsening the situation is the wrong and ignorant application of fertilizers affecting the quality of the yam produced in the country,” Mr. Ayeh stated.

He also disclosed that Nigeria has started planting “Puna” and if Ghana continues to entertain the rejection of its produce in Europe and other parts of the world, the country will lose its business to Nigeria.

Mr. Ayeh believes that farmers can still get bumper harvest without the use of excessive fertilisers.

He added that the GAFEA, of which he is a member has met severally to discuss how to deal with it but still the problem exists adding that now when their yam produce are exported to Europe, they do not get value for money because almost half of the yam go bad before reaching its destination.

Read also Farmers benefit from COVID-19 response under TAATs

Mr. William Safo Ayeh is calling on the government, the ministry of Food and Agriculture, CSIR and other relevant stakeholders in the agric sector to as a matter of urgency get in touch with yam farmers in the country, train and educate them on the proper use of fertilisers and also educate them on the dangers of weedicides, herbicides and pesticides on their produce as it has the tendency to affect the long term yam sector negatively.

He said, “Fertilisers and especially the organic fertilisers can be good but the excessive practice and the wrong application is the issue.”

According to an Agronomist, Dzokoto Shakespeare, “It is worrying to note that exporters are not talking about it. Some have lost close to 40% or more of their produce before it got to its final destination.

“Some have also been rejected on arrival due to high rate of decomposed or rotten tubers. Puna, which hitherto was naturally grown has fallen victim to this misfortune.”

He also added that yam must return to its organic model to save the industry. Hence, the need to organize the yam sector prior to the next major season because most yam exporters are not happy and this must be addressed by the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.

Read also Partnerships and investments in digital agriculture needed amid COVID-19 – Extension Director

Brief on Yam export in Ghana

According to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority’s report, the export of Yam from Ghana increased from US$ 32.599 million in 2017 to US$37.986 million in 2018. In terms of global ranking of countries that exported products under the sector in spotlight, Ghana garnered the 6th position.

The USA was the largest market destination for yam from Ghana with estimated imports of US$14.355 million of the product in 2018 compared to US$12.929 million and US$10.585 million for 2017 and 2016 respectively.

Other notable importers of yam from Ghana include the UK (US$ 10.202million), The Netherland (US$ 3.614 million, Belgium (US$ 3.502 million), and S.A ( US$ 2.224 million).

The top five importing countries comprising the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa accounted for about 89.3% of total value of exports of the product from Ghana

Partnerships and investments in digital agriculture needed amid COVID-19 – Extension Director

The Director of Agriculture Extension Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Paul Siameh, has called for more investments in digital agriculture products to address current and emerging challenges.

He explained that the continuous collaboration between the government, development partners and the private sector towards the development of more digital solutions to reach farmers with climate-smart practices, improved inputs, information on post-harvest and other improved farming practices especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was critical in achieving Ghana’s food security through the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.

Mr Siameh made the call during a virtual conference jointly organised by Farmerline, a Ghanaian agritech company, and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in Accra.

The conference was on the theme: “Influencing farmer behaviour change: Relevant lessons for the new normal.”

He noted that the pandemic had limited face-to-face interactions between extension officers and farmers, hence the need to devise an innovative approach to reach farmers.

Read also Seed value chain actors sensitized on guidelines for implementing Seed Legislation in Ghana

Mr Siameh urged agritech companies to conduct more research and develop community-specific digital tools and applications to propel smooth dissemination of information to farmers in remote communities.

Ms Lily Akorfa Keledorme, the Head of Partner and Farmer Engagement at Farmerline, said COVID-19 had shown the importance of technology in extending services to farmers in diverse locations.

She stated due to Farmerline’s way of operating – adopting technology and digitising all of its operations – the company easily extended critical interventions to farmers and agents amid the COVID-19 era.

“With the existence of COVID, we cannot make ourselves available on the field every time so we must have systems like the Farmer Helpline so we can be able to support the farmers and install systems that agents can use to track the performance of farmers,” she said.

Read also Bongberi residents in Ghana appeal for dam for irrigation farming

Ms Keledorme said a study conducted by Farmerline also revealed that a blend of in-person training and digital tools play an important role in driving the adoption of best farming practices because “it is cost-effective and scalable.” She noted that 73% of them have started planning & allocating resources for the next season.

“I would want to reiterate that the blended approach of training farmers is something we should look at more because it deepens the engagement levels of farmers. It helps them to adopt the practices that we teach them and in this COVID era, digital tools will play a key role in helping farmers to increase their yields and profits,” she said.

Dr Rufaro Madakadze, the Senior Program Officer for Extension and Capacity Building Unit at AGRA, noted that the essence of employing digital tools in the delivery of essentials services to farmers through the Village Based Advisor (VBA) model, urging stakeholders in the agriculture sector to accept reality and switch to the new ways of doing things.

“AGRA has also adopted digital tools in reaching out to our agents and trainers and it makes it easier to reach out to more farmers in a large setting, delivering relevant content and information and preventing the transmission of COVID,” she said.

Mr Benjamin Fiafor Country Representative for Farm Radio International, underscored the power of radio in influencing the behaviour of farmers, saying “Up to 40 per cent of farmers who learn about a new practice through a radio program supported by Farm Radio International end up applying it on their farm.”

Read also Farmers benefit from COVID-19 response under TAATs

Mr Maxwell Olupot, the Partnerships, Planning and Learning Specialist at African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services called for collective action among stakeholders in the agriculture sector to empower more farmers through the evolving Farmer Business School approach to adopt best practices, improve yields, and ensure food security.

Farmers benefit from COVID-19 response under TAATs

The National Programme Coordinator of the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP), Mr Felix Ngmenkaara Darimaani, has indicated that over 20, 000 smallholder farmers have been supported to cultivate about 38, 000 hectares of maize and soya.

He said under the COVID-19 response strategy of the programme, 15,000 farmers were also supported to cultivate 12, 000 hectares of rice, adding that out of the number, 3,600 hectares was in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region.

Addressing farmers, off-takers, processors, policy makers and implementers at a market access workshop at Fumbisi the Builsa South District capital, Mr Darimaani said with COVID-19, importation of rice would be a challenge.

“Therefore, government has developed strategies to develop rice production for which we have the potential. Processing facilities are being procured by the project to add value to rice produced.”

He said value chain infrastructure played a key role in Agriculture and therefore the need for such intervention.
Mr Darimaani said the TAATs programme was part of the SAPIP and the Savannah Investment Programme (SIP), implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).

Read also Bongberi residents in Ghana appeal for dam for irrigation farming

The projects are founded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the overall goal of the programme was to reduce the importation of animal protein, enhance competition of the poultry industry, improve small ruminants breeds and contribute to improved food and nutrition security.

Mr Sylvan Dauda Danaa, the Builsa South District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) said with the support of SAPIP, MoFA in the District had acquired over 50 aggregators.

“So you will realise that this year, we have produced more than last year in terms of land space, but you are not hearing much about the hustle we got last year, because a lot of the aggregators have come.”

He said there were buyers for their produce at the Valleys adding “We are looking for sustainable marketing to link the farmers in the value chain.”

Mr Danaa said with the support of SAPIP and SIP, MoFA would create a data base to ensure synergy between farmers, aggregators, processors and marketers.

Read also Ghana: Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project to supply combine harvesters to rice farmers

Mr Richard Akuka, a farmer at the Fumbisi rice valleys said through SAPIP, farmers received seeds and fertilizers which supported them to increase their production.

He said even though the market for their produce had also improved with most buyers from the Southern part of the country, they could not buy all the rice, “We need processing millers like Avanash and others to also come and buy.”

Bongberi residents in Ghana appeal for dam for irrigation farming

The residents of Bongberi community in the Wa West District, have appealed to the government to consider providing the community with an irrigation dam to enable them, especially the youth to engage in dry season farming.

They said that would also help prevent the youth from travelling to the southern sector to engage in illicit activities such as illegal mining.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Bongberi, Madam Yaa Suuri, noted that due to the lack of other source of economic activity for the youth in the community, they had to travel to other parts of the country to seek non-existent greener pastures.

The President Akufo-Addo led government introduced the One-Village-One-Dam initiative to construct small dams in communities in the country to help improve irrigation farming, which would serve as a source of livelihood for the community folks.

Read also Seed value chain actors sensitized on guidelines for implementing Seed Legislation in Ghana

“After harvesting we don’t have anything doing. If we don’t burn charcoal we can’t get money to buy salt to cook. So if we have a dam we can farm tomatoes or okra and sell to get money,” Yaa explained.

According to her, the education of girl children in the community was no encouraging as they dropped out of school and travelled to the southern parts to engage in head potting, known as Kayayee.

“Because there is no work for parents to do and cater for their children, the girls go to men for money and the men in turn sleep with the girls and they end up becoming pregnant, their education is also truncated ”, Madam Suuri added.

Mr Gyirkaa Eric, another resident of the community, told the GNA that the lack of a dam in the community was also affecting their livestock as the animals did not get water to drink in the community in the dry season.

Read also Returnee migrants seek support to develop poultry farm project on two acre land

He said the animals had to move to other communities before they could get water, which also resulted to some of them getting missing in the process.

Meanwhile, Mr Gyirkaar Nicholas, the Assembly Member for the area, indicated that he was negotiating with the Wa West District Assembly for the assembly to construct a dam for the community.

Ghana: Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project to supply combine harvesters to rice farmers

The National Programme Coordinator of the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP), Mr Felix Ngmenkaara Darimaani, says a contract has been awarded for the supply of 10 harvesters to farmers.

The SAPIP is implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to support government’s flagship programme, the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs,’ with funding from the African Development Bank.

The Project development objective is to transform the agricultural value chains for food and nutrition security, job and wealth creation.

Mr Darimaani said “Under our programme, SAPIP, we have already awarded contract for the supply of 10 harvesters. Five of them for maize and soya, and five crawler type that can enter even water to harvest.”

The Programme Coordinator disclosed this in a sideline interview with the Ghana News Agency at a market access workshop at Fumbisi, in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region.

He said the crawler combine harvesters, which had no tires, would enable the farmers to harvest their produce successfully devoid of the usual destruction caused to farm produce by combine harvesters with tires.

“We believe by the end of December, we should have them. The contract was awarded in August, and the supplier has 150 days to deliver. Unfortunately the procurement process is such that we could not award the contract much earlier.”

Mr Darimaani conceded that the number to be procured was not enough to solve the needs of farmers, and said “As a project, we are setting targets, we have certain resources allocated for certain activities.”

According to him, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture was committed to the procurement process, adding “He has been passionate about supporting the Ghanaian farmer to transform Agriculture not just only in the Savannah area, but the whole of Ghana.”

He said plans were underway by the Ministry to acquire more machines to cater for the entire production chain for farmers to produce efficiently to feed Ghana and export to other countries.

Mr Daniel Kwame Gariba, the Builsa South District Chief Executive (DCE) in a separate interview, said through the SAPIP, the rice valleys in the District were expanded, “This year alone, we are expanding it by 750 hectares. That will mean that more farmers will come on board.”

He said with the expansion of the valleys, farmers may be reluctant to produce more for fear of available markets to sell their produce.

On the essence of the workshop, the DCE said “I see it as an important one, this will provide a kind of assurance to the farmers that no matter the acres they do, government is poised in making sure that they have access to market.”

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