Tag Archives: Ghana

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.

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 to outdoor consolidated national conservation agriculture manual soon

Ghana will soon get a Consolidated National Conservation Agriculture manual that will review the myriad of existing Conservation Agriculture manuals and develop a standardized one to serve as a one-stop reference document for stakeholders.

Conservation Agriculture is a sustainable approach to agricultural production aimed at protecting soil from erosion and degradation, improve its quality and biodiversity, contribute to the preservation of natural resources, water, and air, whilst improving yields.

Conservation Agriculture is based on three core principles: minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of permanent soil cover and use of crop rotations with a diversity of crop species.

Dr Jasmin Marston, the European Union Resilience Against Climate Change (EU-REACH) Project Manager, disclosed this in Wa during a three-day training workshop for planning officers and management of Information Systems officers in the Upper West, North East, and Savannah Regions of the country.

Dr Marston noted further that they had also begun mapping existing resources and land uses in some 18 communities, which is being used to design community land use maps that will aid in the development of Community Action Plan guidelines.

She noted that the workshop was aimed at equipping participants with skills in generating geographic data (geo-data) using mobile applications for data collection, map making, and geo-data management whilst building linkages with the planning officers to exchange information, replicate methodology and to help solve technical problems.

Read also Ghana: Prez Akuffo Addo launches the 2017/2018 Agric Census Report

The EU-REACH Project Manager noted that the training was the beginning of similar trainings to build the capacities of the Municipal District Planning and Coordinating Units (M/DPCUs), which would lead to the design of climate-smart development plans.

“The REACH project seeks to primarily address the negative impacts of climate change on communities in the North-West Zone”, she said.

Dr Marston noted that the project used a gender-sensitive approach in helping communities to adopt and sustain good agricultural practices and to assist the M/DPCUs in the development of environmentally sound Medium-Term Development Plans that contributed to the realization of Ghana’s International Commitment to the Paris Agreement on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

Read also Advans Ghana Savings and Loans equips 100 smallholder farmers cocoa, rice value chains

REACH, which is part of the 2017 European Union Ghana Agriculture Project (EUGAP), started in January 2019 and will run until the end of 2024.

It is being implemented on behalf of the EU by the German Development Organization (GIZ)/Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) with additional funding from the German Government and with close partnership and oversight of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Ghana: Secure equitable living income for Cocoa Farmers — CSOs urge Government

In all countries where cocoa is grown, the sector is dominated by smallholder farmers, especially in Africa.

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.

At the same time, 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.

CSOs in the cocoa sector from Ghana and Ivory Coast have urged government to secure living income for cocoa farmers to alleviate them from poverty.

Mr. Obed Owusu Addai, the Lead Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana reiterated that “despite all efforts aimed at improving the Cocoa Sector, the core of the problem is still not being addressed; the extreme poverty and lack of their voice debate.”

He observed that 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.

“To achieve a sufficient level of income to cover basic needs of cocoa farmers, the Living Income Differential would probably need to be a lot higher than what farmers currently receive”.

He made the statement during a 2 days International Conference on Cocoa Pricing and Sustainability, organised by EcoCare Ghana in Accra.

Read also Ghana threatens to suspend cocoa companies’ sustainability schemes

The conference brought various stakeholders in the cocoa supply chain from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Europe through online platform called Zoom®. Most of the participants were cocoa farmers, NGOs and private sector actors that operate in the cocoa supply chain.

Speaking on the theme, “Regulating Responsible Trade in Forest-risk Commodities- the Case of Cocoa in Ghana”, Mr. Clement Akapame, a Partner at Taylor Crabbe Law Firm advocated for a private sector-led initiative to address concerns in the cocoa value chain.

He stated that consumer and producer countries need to form voluntary partnerships aimed at ensuring sustainable cocoa production.

Mr. Antonie Fountain, of Voice Network, questioned how all the agreements and European Union measures will translate to ensuring farmers actually get the money in their pockets?

He was of the view that, “without proper mechanism for transparency and accountability, setting living Income Differential is Dangerous”.

Read also Ghana: Cocoa farmers urge government to intensify fight against illegal mining

He therefore urged governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast to ensure transparency in the money coming into their respective countries.

Ms Leticia Yankey, the founder of Cocoa Mmaa, a cooperative that seeks to empower female cocoa farmers, expressed concern about the lack of consultation of cocoa farmers during key decision making by governments, private sector and other key stakeholders in the cocoa value chain during policy formation and decision making.

She was grateful for the opportunity given to cocoa farmers, especially females to be part of the conference. She identified that one of the key contributing factors to cocoa farmers living below the poverty line is financial illiteracy.

She urges stakeholders to empower them on financial management to help boost their living income.

The conference was funded by ClientEarth, through the United Kingdom Department for International Development’s (DfID) Forest Governance, Markets and Climate (FGMC) Programme. It was supported by Fern, Taylor Crabbe and the Ghana Civil Society Cocoa Platform.

Read also Ghana: CSOs urge Akufo-Addo not sign to GMOs Bill and save farmers

The Cocoa Conference aimed at clarifying the applicable regulatory frameworks governing cocoa production and trade, and bringing relevant stakeholders together to discuss and develop concrete workable strategies and roadmaps to address pricing challenges in the cocoa sector; with emphasis on guaranteeing sustainable cocoa production.

Ghana 2020/21 cocoa arrivals down 10.4% by November 5 – COCOBOD

Ghana’s graded and sealed (G&S) cocoa arrivals stood at 146,886 tonnes as of Novenber 5 since the start of this year’s harvest on Oct. 1, down from 163,162 tonnes the previous season, figures from marketing board COCOBOD showed by the end of last week.

G&S is cocoa that has been quality checked and sealed in bags by COCOBOD and is ready to be shipped.

Cocoa production in Ghana is expected to reach 800,000 tonnes this season, COCOBOD has forecast and insists that despite the slow start to the new season with regards to purchases from local farmers for export, this target will still be met.

Read also COCOBOD takes pragmatic steps to fight to check soil acidity to boost cocoa production

Indeed, following a 28 percent increase in the price at which government buys cocoa from local farmers at the farm gate – the first such increase in two years – enthusiasm is high among producers.

Besides, COCOBOD has embarked on several major initiatives such as hand pollination in addition to its traditional mass spraying and distribution of subsidized fertilizer with the aim of tripling productivity per acre.

Read also Ghana threatens to suspend cocoa companies’ sustainability schemes

It is also registering farmers on a digital database with the aim of ensuring that only the righty recipients benefit from some more new initiatives in the pipeline aimed at supporting genuine cocoa farmers and increasing their output per acre.

However COVID 19 has significantly reduced global demand for cocoa since chocolate consumption has fallen considerably as consumers exercise caution with regards to their household budgets.

But within COCOBOD itself there are suspicions that demand is being deliberately dampened to dissuade Ghana from charging the recently agreed US$400 per tonne Living Income Differential paid to it and neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire to enable their cocoa farmers earn more income.

Read also COCOBOD targets 300% increment in coffee production next season – Owusu-Manu

Below are exporters’ buying volume from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5. Exporter Volume (tonnes) Olam 37,550 AGL (Ecom Trading) 25,158 ELIHO 17,963 NYONKOPA (Barry Callebaut) 11,903 P.B.C 11,113 FCL 6,532 KUAPA KOKO 6,276 UNICOM 5,008 A.B.L. 3,283 CMGL 2,648 CARGILL 2,153 TRGL 305 ————————————————— TOTAL 146,162——————————

Ghana threatens to suspend cocoa companies’ sustainability schemes

COCOBOD is threatening to suspend the sustainability schemes used by major cocoa and chocolate companies to assure consumers that the cocoa beans they use are sustainably and ethically sourced.

In comments prepared for the latest World Cocoa Foundation conference on behalf of Ghana and its west African neighbour Ivory Coast, Joseph Aidoo, chief executive of Ghanaian regulator COCOBOD said cocoa and chocolate companies in West Africa were thwarting government attempts to combat farmer poverty by trying to evade paying the Living Income Differential agreed by the two countries and global cocoa buyers.

As a result, their sustainability schemes, which allow companies such as Barry Callebaut and Nestle to charge consumers a premium for chocolate certified as sustainably sourced, could be suspended.

Ghana and Ivory Coast, which together produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, introduced a living income differential (LID) or premium last year of US$400 per tonne on all 2020/21 cocoa sales the proceeds of which are being used to raise the income of cocoa farmers in the form of a 28 percent increase on the amount each country’s government pays cocoa farmers per tonne of the commodity purchased at the farm gate.

“The (cocoa/chocolate) brands (have) openly announced their commitment to the LID (but) our intelligence indicates there is a ploy by some to derail (it),” Aidoo said.

“Any brand that is seen not to be serious in accepting the LID by mid-December 2020 must consider all its cocoa beans from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire as conventional. We are prepared to name and shame these brands,” he added.

Ivory Coast and Ghana have struggled to sell forward their 2020/21 cocoa crop since introducing the LID, in large part because the coronavirus-induced recession slashed demand for non-staple foods like chocolate.

However there are suspicions in Ghana that the reluctance of buyers to purchase on the forward market is a subtle attempt on the country – and Cote d’Ivoire as well – to stop insisting on adding the LID to the normal market price accepted by other, smaller cocoa exporting countries.

Ghana has traditionally sold its produce on the forward market which enables it to secure between US$1.3 billion and US$1.8 billion in short term financing from a consortium of international commercial banks.

The facility – the largest annual agricultural financing facility in sub-Saharan Africa – is secured by cocoa sales proceeds from the international markets.

An inability to sell on forward markets could jeopardize Ghana’s ability to raise this financing which it uses to fund its cocoa purchases from local farmers.

If Ghana goes ahead with its threat, then major chocolate makers who are the main buyers of Ghanaian cocoa would no longer be able to charge premiums on their products made from Ghanaian cocoa.

KNUST Female Professor named among Top Global Scientists

Professor Marian Asantewah Nkansah of the Department of Chemistry, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana has been named among the top 10 scientists in Africa. She was also named among the top 60 scientists around the world in the 2020 Analytical Scientists Power List.

The Analytical Scientists Power List recognises scientists around the globe who tell unique stories. It also focuses on people, technology and innovations, by shaping the measurement of science.

It covers analytical science by telling stories- delving into the hopes, fears, motivations and aspirations of key figures in the field. Analytical science likewise encourages cross-pollination of ideas through an accessible and solutions-based approach.

Prof. Marian Asantewah Nkansah is an Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry of KNUST. She holds a PhD in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Bergen-Norway and obtained her BSc. and MSc. from KNUST in 2002 and 2005 respectively. She teaches Chemistry at both the Undergraduate and Graduate levels.

Read also KNUST maintains its enviable position as the best University in Ghana and the 12th Best University in Africa

Professor Nkansah’s research interests span a wide range of fields including finding solutions to environmental problems associated with levels and fate of toxic substances like heavy/trace metals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in different environmental matrices. She has quite a number of peer reviewed articles and books to her credit.

Prof. Nkansah has received training in Science Diplomacy and Science Advice for Policy. She has been on both national and international platforms where science is discussed for better public understanding. She has been involved with the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science in their high school outreach programmes.

In recognition of her contribution to public understanding of science, she was featured in the first ever book on ‘African Women in Science’, a project of the Network of African Science Academies in partnership with the Inter-Academy Partnership in November, 2016.

Read also Bigmanism: A canker destroying local businesses

In June 2017, during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureates meeting in Germany, Marian spoke on the same panel with scientists like Prof. Helga Nowotny (Vice-President of the Council of Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings) and Prof. William E. Moerner (2014 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry).

The topic was ‘science in the post-truth era’. The discourse echoed the need for scientists to communicate their findings devoid of jargons so that conspiracy theorists will not distort the facts to discredit science and influence public opinion. She has also spoken at the Science Forum of South Africa (SFSA).

Prof. Nkansah is a member of the Global Young Academy, an affiliate of TWAS and AAS and a founding member of the Ghana Young Academy. She is the inaugural recipient of the TWAS F.M Al-Kharafi Prize in 2016. Prof. Nkansah is a Fellow of the Next Einstein’s Forum (NEF) and Member of the Global Young Academy (GYA).

Read also School of Veterinary Medicine of KNUST conducts anti-rabies vaccination campaign at Sekyere Central District

She is also a member of the Women in STEM Ghana group and is committed to the mentorship of female university students particularly those in STEM fields, and serves as a role model for young girls at the basic level of their education.

She enjoys teaching and loves to share her experiences with the people she meets. She also enjoys storytelling, travelling and hiking.

COCOBOD targets 300% increment in coffee production next season – Owusu-Manu

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is seeking to increase coffee production by over 300 percent as it plans to upgrade the coffee desk into a full-scale division to supervise production and export of the commodity.

Currently, Ghana produces about 10,000 tonnes of coffee annually for the domestic market.

Globally, the coffee industry is estimated to be worth US$100 billion in value, with Africa earning just about 2 percent of the amount even though the continent is a leading producer and the original home of coffee.

“With the plan to set up the Coffee Division at COCOBOD, it is our hope to increase production from 10,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes in the medium-term and then 100,000 tonnes in the long-term,” Deputy Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation at COCOBOD, Michael Owusu-Manu, said at the African Coffee Scientific Conference held via Zoom.

He explained that the master-plan is to make coffee production as important as cocoa to enhance foreign earnings from the commodity, since the global demand for coffee keeps growing every year.

Read also Exceptional way of using little to produce more crops by increasing water use efficiency

He stated that COCOBOD will engage major stakeholders to help process the coffee in Ghana before it is exported, to enable Ghana benefit from the US$100billion value chain.

“Just like cocoa, coffee is worth billions of dollars and yet Africa only earns a small portion of that amount. Most of the coffee produced in Africa is processed outside the continent and brought back to us,” he said.

He maintained that the only way Ghana can benefit from the commodity is to participate in its processing before exporting.

Giving more details on how the Coffee Division will enhance its production, Mr. Owusu-Manu said the shift from a coffee desk to a division will prioritise coffee production, motivating more farmers to enter into its cultivation.

Read also Dashed Hopes: The Story of a National Best Farmer

“Coffee production can thrive almost in the same conditions as cocoa. This is why COCOBOD has been given the oversight responsibility on its production. It means that we can encourage our farmers to also earn more income from coffee in addition to cocoa.”

Delivering the keynote address, the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, pledged government’s support for coffee farmers to encourage more people to enter into the sector.

He stressed that the plan to set up the Coffee Division under COCOBOD demonstrates government’s commitment to reviving coffee production after it was ignored and allowed to deteriorate under the previous government.

Read also Scaling up innovations in agriculture: Lessons from Africa

Dr. Afriyie Akoto noted that the favourable price of coffee should be a motivation to increase its production, particularly as there is constant demand for coffee in Europe and North America.

Source: B&FT

How a Ghana-based mental health service is helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic

In the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic that plagued the world, one thing that has been identified to be worse than the outbreak itself was the misinformation.

I once spoke to Angie, my friend in England who said that she had deliberately stayed away from the news in order to keep her sanity. Jen in United States also said same.

In the case where there’s an influx of information, there’s also the likelihood that false information would also be peddled.

This has many repercussions on one’s mental health, how one judges the gravity of the pandemic and the efforts of public health authorities at containing the spread of the pandemic.

Additionally, inadequate information about the disease may also hinder government’s efforts at containing the outbreak. Much of the communication by the government and health agencies are done by mass media and via portals which may require some form of internet connectivity.

Now, what happens to those persons who don’t have mobile data, or who lack access to a smartphone to access all the updates on the outbreak, or get up to date with the tips on how to keep safe?

The people who can’t afford internet data or airtime are most likely to be the socially excluded, or those who may lack access to good social amenities and live in clustered settlements, hence they are more likely to contract the infection and spread it as well. This emphasizes the need for more efforts to be concentrated at reaching such people.

Read also FAO and OIE kickstart global initiative to stop spread of deadly Pig disease

My participation as panelist at the “Inclusion Matters in Africa” event during the 2019 annual IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington DC was indeed an eye-opener about the varied dimensions of social exclusion.

And particularly in this case, I got some keen insight about how this was a major problem in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in my country, Ghana.

In this regard, I marshaled my team to develop some innovative tools which would provide authentic information to those who had access to internet as well as those who could not afford airtime or had no access to a smartphone device.

For the former group, we created a Telegram chatbot which is a one-stop-shop on all there is to know about COVID-19 in Ghana. Users can access the free chatbot once they have the Telegram App and receive real time updates and notifications on news as they emerged.

This is because we realized that misinformation was fueled by the lack of a single platform which housed all the information one needed about the disease and so we developed a Telegram COVID-19 chat bot specifically for Ghanaians.

Read also Scaling up innovations in agriculture: Lessons from Africa

For those who don’t own smartphones and lack access to internet connectivity, we created a toll-free short code (USSD) which had essential information stored on it.

It has a menu which is constantly updated to provide the following:

  • Real time statistics on the pandemic in Ghana and the world: This is to ensure that people get the accurate statistics as this would help them to rightly appreciate the gravity of the situation. The statistics are automatically updated in real time from the Ghana Health Service website through an artificial intelligence-powered mechanism. A menu which provides free tips on how to keep oneself safe.
  • A menu of emergency numbers in Ghana.
  • When selected, the contacts of the National COVID-19 call center are displayed on the phone screen and a free text message which contains the contacts are sent to the user at no fee.

Read also Ghanaians must be prepared to pay more for food with the advent of AfCFTA – Experts

Although we normally focus on innovations in mental health, we realized the need to venture into reaching all with authentic and real-time information because we believed that the pandemic was a call on all to contribute to the fight in whichever capacity they could.

Today, we have been able to reach the entire country with our innovative tools, and we are very much excited about the prospects mobile phone technology has in helping to fight the pandemic.

By Atsu Latey
Founder of MindIT GH, Medical doctor and 2019 World Bank Social Inclusion Hero Finalist

Making the leap from employee to entrepreneur – Maxwell Ampong’s perspective

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed of visionaries, creators and innovators who have the courage and ingenuity to take risks, break away from the herd and cast a path for themselves.

Starting a business is an increasingly appealing and aspirational career choice – particularly in markets where secure jobs are getting scarcer, and the idea of working your fingers to the bone just to make your boss’s beach house more lavish isn’t very appealing – yet it’s tainted with a veil of uncertainty, especially in the early days. So, how do you become an entrepreneur?

Whether you are in the game of amassing wealth, changing the world or building a legacy that will outlive you, there will come a time where you will need to set aside your job and outsiders’ expectations and just ‘make the leap’.

Making the leap from employee to entrepreneur (successfully) is arguably one of the key obstacles and moments of truth in the life of a start-up founder.

To find out more about this ‘moment of truth’ we gathered some of the best entrepreneurs in Ghana and Founders Institute Mentors to discuss the topic in an interactive online webinar. What follows are the key learnings from “The Leap: Making the Leap from Employee to Entrepreneur in Ghana”.

The grubby reality of entrepreneurship is that there is no magic formula. What follows are some useful considerations and inspirations for anyone seeking to make the leap:

Serve your customer, not your ego.

Be led by the conviction that you’re there to solve a problem, not by confidence in your billion-dollar idea and the need to be seen as a white-collar entrepreneur. Kafui Yevu (Founder of Kraado) rightly said that, “Entrepreneurship is not meant for you to show off as your own boss. You are there to solve a problem.”

Many aspiring entrepreneurs fancy the idea of being labelled as entrepreneurs, but they have no clue whose problem or pain they are solving with their business solution.

Read also Home gardening: How to make a cone Home/kitchen garden

The value you sell is in the solution you are offering. Before making the leap, ask yourself these reflective questions;

  • Is your business model making someone’s life more convenient?
  • Is your potential customer willing to pay you to make their life easier with your solution?
  • And after you have served them, do you see them recommending you to their family, friends and other potential customers?

Answering these questions is part of the preliminary steps for starting and operating a sustainable business model in Ghana.

Keeping the Lights On.

How do you pay your bills, especially during the first two years of your start-up venture during which you are either making a loss or barely breaking even?

We unpacked what it means to make the leap in three steps and put together some tactics that will help you keep the lights on, building on the experience of some of our FI mentors and entrepreneurs.

Remember, this is just an inspiration and one of many options. It’s important that ‘you do you’ and work with the resources and opportunities that are available around you.

As Felix Darko, one of the leading Program Managers of the African success story, MEST stated, “You need to find that place within yourself to focus and dedicate your full energies to both your side hustle and your startup. This is where time management becomes critical.”

Stage 1: Keep your job and start a side hustle (your start-up).

Keep your job. Once you have identified a problem worth solving, your goal is to develop a solution (or many iterations of it) and find a market (or many ways of bringing the product to market). If you keep an exploratory and testing mindset, then you’re on track.

Keep in mind, at this point, you are not running a business full time yet. Making it your side hustle means you are able to nurture and grow your idea or solution and test it within your network.

You are also able to fall on your current employment income to fund aspects of your entirely new venture and also provide for yourself and your family.

Read also Home gardening: How to make a simple drip irrigation home garden using plastics

Another argument in favour of such a strategy is the ability to make sound and good business decisions for your early-stage venture since the urgency to make money and keep a roof over your head is significantly reduced.

“Have a stream of income that keeps you afloat to survive when starting your business because being in survival mode makes you desperate and you’re likely to make bad decisions.” – Foster Awintiti- Akugri | Founder, Hacklab Foundation.

Stage 2: Quit your job and double the hustle.

At some point, after you have identified your product-market fit, you have revenue coming in, and your business is requiring more of your time and dedication. This is when your start-up (which started as your side hustle) needs full-time attention, but it can’t yet pay a full time salary .

Founder Institute Ghana is made up of amazingly successful Founders and leaders, and some of our mentors who ‘did it’ by deciding to switch from full-time employees to sole traders in order to maintain an income stream from a job they can do for others while opening up more time for the business.

Basically, switching their full-time role for a side hustle. Your options may include offering services like freelance consulting, blogging, public speaking and tutoring which is advised to be within your area of expertise.

Cecil Nutakor, CEO & Founder of eCampus, mentioned during the panel discussion that he considers offering public speaking services in the education and e-learning sector as a side hustle.

This is something he can pull off with ease because it’s in his area of expertise and has an intrinsic alignment with his edu-tech business, potentially acting as a marketing tool for his startup as well. Two birds with one stone, essentially.

Read also A step by step guide to nursing a newborn Calf

Stage 3: Full-time salary from your start-up

You hustled hard. Worked double jobs but it was worth it. You have found product-market fit and you have got money in the bank to pay yourself a salary and focus 100% on your company. You made the leap, congratulations!

But this is only the beginning … if your money in the bank is coming from healthy revenue (selling your product) it’s a positive sign of financial sustainability, if your salary is paid with investors’ money, congrats for raising funding but remember, your goal is to make revenue, not raise capital.

The Support before The Success

Surveying the experts very quickly revealed that a well-balanced support system should focus on these 3 key areas;

  • Emotional Support: when you have family, friends, and a great network who believe in you and are there to help keep your head straight when the going gets tough, it makes your transition a lot smoother.
  • Mentorship: having mentors who are experts in their respective fields to turn to when you need advice is also good to keep you on track as you make the leap. This is a great opportunity to learn from mistakes they may have made or learn from how they approached a particular problem that you are currently facing.
  • Financial Support: We are not talking about Venture Capital (VC) money or huge grants from some top-notch organizations which come with tedious procedures. Typically, it’s hard to raise those types of funds in the first 2 years of your start-up’s operation. That is why it’s important to focus on the less expensive forms of funding – i.e. raising funds from family and friends. Start-up capital is always a headache for many start-ups and so being able to fall on family and friends reduces the financial burden. In Ghana, the cost of borrowing from any bank is anywhere from 15% to 30%+ per annum, and it is higher especially for a start-up, which may be considered as high risk. This is why it’s good to start with family and friends.

“It’s the support you get before you make it as an entrepreneur that’s more important.” – Nana Osei Founder, Co- founder, Bluhue & Bôhten Eyewear.

Read also All you need to know about Grasscutter Farming

Sparring Partner and Teams

Another of our expert, Mahi Sall, a Global Startup Mentor, commented: “It is best to have a partner or co-founder when starting a business because they usually come with new skills sets and experiences.”

As the saying goes, “No man is an island” and it is important to learn how to collaborate with others to achieve exponential growth. Why own 100% of a venture worth USD $0.00, when you can own 50% of a venture worth millions of dollars?

Between 2004 and 2014, 43 unicorns were built globally, and 35 of these had co-founders, with an average of three co-founders. This emphasizes the importance of collaborating and sharing the responsibility of building a sustainable business.

A co-founder brings to the table skills, experiences, and a network that complement yours. You basically have more than one brain to develop strong and innovative solutions to address the challenge identified for your startup venture.

Mahi also added that, “You need a sparring partner or someone to support you when your capabilities alone can’t achieve results.” And of course, those great co-founders, who complemented one another’s ideocracies, talents and skills, have built great teams around them.

Cecil Nutakor, who is no stranger to building teams, commented, “If you build the right team, you will do less and you will have the time to be more visionary, innovative, and try new things.”

To conclude, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for making the leap from employee to an entrepreneur. However, it is our hope that the considerations above will set you on the right path to making informed decisions as to when and how to make such a leap in your current situation.

You need cheerleaders (outside of friends and family!). If your idea is that great, and you are the right person to move that idea forward, you’ll quickly get buy-in from others, in various forms of support, whether it be mentorship, connections or financial.

Managing Director of Founder Institute Ghana, Simon R Turner, perhaps pulls everything together most succinctly by saying: “Once you find that your side hustle is taking priority, more enjoyable, and more rewarding than your day job, that’s when you know it’s time to make the leap.”

Have a lovely week!

This article was written by Groundbreaking Africa and Maxwell Investments Group, in partnership with Founder Institute Ghana.

Maxwell Ampong is an Agro-Commodities Trader and the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Business Solutions Provider. He is also the Official Business Advisor to Ghana’s General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.

Ghana: Agriculture needs practical and deliberate incentives to sustain economic growth

Many expert believe that for Ghana’s agriculture to sustain economic growth in this pandemic period, there will be the need for practical incentives to be formulated across the value chain, speakers at an agriculture conference have said.

The suggestion comes after data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) showed that agriculture was the only sector, among the three main sectors, to record growth in the second quarter of the year.

While the other two sectors, industry and services, were decimated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as they experienced contraction of 5.7 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, the ‘rejected stone’ – agriculture – didn’t succumb to the pressure, but rather saw a growth of 2.5 percent.

This, the discussants, speaking on the theme: ‘Boosting Agricultural Value Chains in the Midst of COVID-19 and Political Party Manifestos’ which was organised by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana said, can be improved if there are deliberate efforts by government to provide tailor-made incentives which will cut across the agriculture value chain.

Read also Gyaasehene appeals to farmers in Dormaa Central to adopt greenhouse technology

Director of the Institute, Professor Peter Quartey, said government should formulate policies that will provide incentives and cushion financial institutions to lend to players in the agriculture. This, he added, will in turn provide a cheaper source of financing to the sector.

“Agriculture has a level of risk which is slightly higher than that of commerce. Agriculture cannot pay the same rates on loans just as other sectors do. So it needs cheaper source of credit and this calls for government policy.

“Government doesn’t necessarily have to directly lend to players in the sector. It can provide incentive schemes for banks or development financial institutions to lend to agriculture.

“Then talking about the risk, what makes agriculture risky? First, agriculture depends on rainfall. So how do you help farmers to engage in irrigation? Once that is done, it reduces the risk. How do you help them get access to market? How do you get them to add value to their products instead of just selling them as raw materials?

“How do you get them to store to prevent post-harvest losses? So these are all the things government will have to provide for the environment for agriculture to thrive. When that is done, agriculture will become a viable entity which will even attract the youth to move there,” he said.

Read also COCOBOD takes pragmatic steps to fight to check soil acidity to boost cocoa production

CEO of the Ghana Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL), Kwesi Korboe, said a holistic approach is what the sector needs to address its challenges to become resilient.

“Agriculture is a holistic thing so you need to tackle it holistically. When you have broad incentives, you may not address the problem because the agriculture value chain is a very complex thing, even within production.

“Some are doing the physical planting, some are providing seeds, and so you need to address it across the value chain that takes care of each participant. That is the best way of providing incentives,” he said in an interview with the B&FT.

Then, Professor Irene Egyir of the Department of Agriculture Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Ghana, also said government must put in the necessary infrastructure and macroeconomic policies which will make the environment conducive for players in the sector, and further attract the youth into agriculture.

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“We have to create a rural economy that will attract people to venture into agriculture. There should be good roads, water, and electricity that will make it possible for people to move there so that when you set up a factory and you want to add value, you will find the environment convenient.

“Giving out fertilizer to farmers is a good policy but it goes to a few people. We want that which is public good. And again, government should do something about the macroeconomy so that interest rates may go down so that the system itself will ease,” she said.

Poultry and related products imports from Europe banned over bird flu

Ghana has banned poultry imports from the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, and Denmark over bird flu.

The government has temporarily banned the importation of domestic birds as well as their products from the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Denmark and the United Kingdom with immediate effect.

This came following the outbreak of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza subtype H5N8 from these European countries.

A Press Statement issued by the Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Agric, Robert P. Ankobiah said: “Importers are to note that all importation permits that were issued for such consignment from the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have been rendered invalid with immediate effect.”

Read also Ghana: SNV launches GrEEn Job Fair at Agona Nkwanta

The ministry stressed that day-old chicks, hatching eggs, frozen chicken, poultry products, and poultry feeds have all been affected by the ban.

Here is a copy of the statement:

Read also Agric requires strong regulatory authority – Agribusiness Chamber

Former President Jerry John Rawlings dies, aged 73

Former President, Jerry John Rawlings has passed on.

He died in the early hours of Thursday, November 12, 2020.

This was confirmed to Citi News by sources close to the family of the former President.

Jerry John Rawlings buried his mother Madam Victoria Agbotui in October 2020.

Madam Agbotui died at the age of 101.

Ghana: Wa East Best Farmer advises farmers to follow Good Agronomic Practices

The Wa East District Best Farmer for the 2020 farming season, Mr Abudulai Bajuuri, has advised farmers to observe Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs) in their farming activities in order to benefit from their sweat.

He said he had personally been following the advice from Agricultural Extension Agents on proper farming practices and appropriate crop variety to plant, which had benefited him tremendously.

Mr Bajuuri gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Guonuo in the Wa East District at the weekend after the occasion of the 36th Farmers Day celebration.

The event, which was on the theme: “Agribusiness development under covid-19 – Opportunities and challenges”, saw the Wa East District Assembly awarding 18 farmers, while the Sissala Rural Bank and Vision Farms also awarded eight farmers.

“I don’t refuse advice, when the agric workers come here and say anything that we should do this and that or we should plant this type of crop that is what I do. That is what has helped me,” 41 years old Mr Bajuuri explained.

He also advised the general public against bushfire, saying they could destroy farm produce, and in turn affect the economy of the farmer as well as affect human life.

Read also Ghana: Physically challenged named best farmer in Obuasi East

On her part, 28 years old Amamata Sahanun, the winner of the District’s Best Woman Farmer category, advised women farmers to inculcate the habit of saving to help them to improve their farming activities.

“As a woman I do not have the strength like a man to farm. Because of that I engage labourers to do almost everything for me. When I harvest, I store some of the produce and sell them when I am ready to farm, so I always have some money to pay for the labourers,” she explained.

Madam Sahanun stated that due to the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, they had access to fertilizer at affordable prices which had enabled them to expand their farms.

For his award, Mr Bajuuri received a tricycle, knapsack sprayer, wellington boot and a cutlass, while Madam Sahanun took home a “rubber rubber” motorbike, knapsack sprayer, wellington boot and a cutlass.

Read also Honey for skin: How to use and side effects

The Assembly also awarded the best Assembly Member farmer and the best performing agric officer in the District.

In all, 18 people received awards for the various categories, with eight other persons also receiving awards from the Sissala Rural Bank and Vision Farms.

Inadequate veterinary officers inhibits livestock production in Adaklu district – Director of Agriculture

Inadequate veterinary staff and a clinic are some of the main factors inhibiting livestock production in the Adaklu District.

The Adaklu District Director of Agriculture, Mr Francis Seglah, said the district needed eight veterinary officers but had only two.

He was speaking at Adaklu Helekpe during the district’s 36th farmers day celebration on the theme: “Agribusiness Development under Covid-19: opportunities and challenges.

Mr Seglah said the situation made it impossible for livestock farmers to benefit from effective veterinary services.

He, therefore, appealed to the government to post more veterinary officers to the district, which was noted for animal rearing.

Read also OCP AFRICA trains 200 Agric Extension Agents and Farmer Aggregators

Mr Seglah said the district would soon become the largest producer, processor and marketer of beef and dairy products in the Volta region under its ten-year agricultural development plan.

He said under the same plan, a rabbitry would be established and rabbits distributed to interested farmers free of charge to augment their alternative livelihood and improve protein intake.

Mr Promise Hey, a 30-year-old Senior High School leaver from Adaklu Hlihave, was adjudged the overall district best farmer and was given one motor tricycle, a radio set, a certificate and other items.

Read also Agricultural industrialization, government’s focus – Chief Executive

Ghana’s ability to respond to COVID-19 justifies priority placed on agriculture – Anthony Karbo

The Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Anthony Abayifaa Karbo, has stated that “The Country’s ability to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 has undoubtedly justifies the current priority placed on Agriculture by the government”.

Mr Karbo was delivering a keynote address at the 36th National Farmers’ Day Celebration at Tuori in the Lawra Municipality on the theme: “Ensuring Agribusiness Development under COVID-19 – Opportunities and Challenges”.

He noted that at the inception of the pandemic, the panic that disrupted economic activities tested Ghana’s resilience and food security vulnerability, noting however that the country passed the test due to the important agricultural interventions by the government.

He, however, pointed out that whiles government policies continued to support smallholder farmers with subsidised fertilizer and other inputs to improve food production, entrepreneurs must explore ways to add value to raw agricultural products.

Mr Karbo, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Lawra Constituency in the Upper West Region, said the COVID-19 pandemic has taught them the urgent need to develop the agricultural value chain and take advantage of the business side of agriculture.

He noted that though Ghana has almost won the battle against the virus due largely to the good national response of the government, the lesson had created a new sense of awareness about building strong food systems that ensures resilience and less dependence on food imports.

“I want to entreat capable private individuals to channel their funds into value addition on agricultural products so that we can reap the full benefit of the agricultural value chain”, he urged.

“Last year, we experienced a high incidence of bush fires in the Municipality with the notable ones being the burning of a CIKOD conservation site at Pavuu and the burning of the Lawra Forest. We fail to realize that when we burn the bushes on our farmlands, it kills the living organisms in the soil and affects its fertility”, he said.

Read also We’ve created vibrant agric sector; Ghana now net exporter of foodstuffs – Akufo-Addo

The Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways noted that bush burning further exposed their water bodies to the sun and causes them to dry up on time, thereby leaving very serious implications on the strides government was making to revive the agriculture sector through policies such as the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) and the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD).

“To deal with the problem of bush fires we must put all hands on deck as farmers, chiefs, heads of departments and citizens to put an end to indiscriminate bush burning”, he said.

The MP who is seeking re-election stressed on the need for all political parties in the Municipality to embark on decent and issue-based campaigns without attacking the personality of rivals and political opponents.

“We must all ensure that there is peace and security so that people can go about their normal activities”, he said and call on the youth of the Municipality to be crusaders of peace and not allow themselves to be used by political actors to foment trouble during this year’s elections.

Mr Martin Domotier Bomba-ire, the Lawra Municipal Chief Executive announced that the Lawra Municipality had been added to the Rearing for Food and Jobs programme.

Read also Ghanaian Professor, Francis Dodoo Awarded Prestigious British Academy Global Professorship

He disclosed that the Municipality has been allocated 750 sheep and 400 cockerels to be distributed to farmers, adding that about 30 farmers would be receiving 25 sheep each whilst 40 other farmers would receive 10 cockerels each.

The MCE assured that the Assembly would soon support the Municipal Fire Command with logistics to strengthen its anti-bush fire campaigns and sensitization in their communities and anticipated that this measure would help reduce the incidence of bush fires this year.

Mr Simon Yir, the Municipal Director of Agriculture commended the gallant farmers and fishermen in the Municipality for their hard work in food production that sustained the nation even amid COVID-19.

He noted that during the period, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) also introduced the E-Agriculture programme which enabled them to successfully reach farmers with relevant and timely information on production.

Mr Yir enumerated a few challenges including low usage of improved seeds, low soil fertility and inadequate motorbikes for agric officers to move round to monitor and offer vital services to farmers within the Municipality and called for assistance.

Read also Water-saving irrigation: Not too wet, not too dry but just right! – Gilbert Osei

Mr Daniel Banuoku, the Executive Director of Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) noted that one of the critical factors that helped to lessen the impact of COVID-19 in Africa was its food systems, therefore, commended government for the numerous initiatives in the agriculture sector that ensured food security in this critical time.

In all, a total of 103 awards were issued out to deserving farmers comprising nine main awards, 29 grounds awards, 12 MP’s awards, two SARI Awards, one Antika award, 10 COKOD awards and 40 exhibition awards.

The overall Municipal Best Famer went to 43-year-old, Mr Antoma Dery, a native of Zambo Korkori community who has two wives, six children and 14 dependants.

Read also Ghana Gov’t applauds 10-year impact of pre-harvest agribusiness exhibition and conference on agribusiness

Mr Dery has sorghum-14 acres, groundnuts- 12 acres, maize- six acres, millet- one acre, and half-acre each for yam and sweet potato in the area of food crops and tree crops, he has five acres of cashew, 10 acres of mango, and 10 pawpaw trees.

For livestock rearing, Mr Dery has 96 cattle, 41 sheep, 84 guinea fowls, 63 goats, five pigs and 17 rabbits.

UENR congratulates Prof. John K. M. Kuwornu on his attainment of Full Professorship in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

The Management of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) has extended its warmest congratulations to Prof. John K. M. Kuwornu on the attainment of the position as a Full Professor.

Prof. Kuwornu becomes the first to be promoted to Full Professor in the University and also the first Full Professor in service in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness in Ghana.

Professor J. K. M. Kuwornu is currently the Dean, School of Graduate Studies of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana.

Prof. J. K. M. Kuwornu has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and Marketing from Wageningen University, Netherlands. He has about 154 Publications in high repute refereed journals, 59,422 Reads and 1833 Citations to his credit.

Read also Ghanaian Professor, Francis Dodoo Awarded Prestigious British Academy Global Professorship

His research and teaching focus on agribusiness management, agribusiness marketing, agricultural finance, agricultural economics, climate change economics, quantitative methods and econometrics.

He possesses strong analytical and conceptual skills as well as written and verbal communication skills.

UENR is proud to have such an astute academic who continues to bring on board his expertise in achieving the mission and vision of the University.

Read also Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Farmers Day 2020: Issifu Ayamba emerges Best Farmer in Tema West Municipality

A seventy year old crop farmer, Issifu Ayamba, from Bawku in the Upper East Region, on Friday, emerged overall Best Farmer in the Tema West Municipality.

For his prize, he received a tricycle, wheel barrow, weedicide, eight cutlasses, radio set, full piece of cloth, urea, hamper, two Knapsack sprayers, Wellington boots amongst other items.

Mr Ayamba, who farms along the Buena Vista stretch of farm lands, Klagon and Lashibi Emf, practices all year farming using six pumping machines, PVC pipelines, and 10 Knapsack sprayers.

He owns 10 acres of onion, 15 acres of tomatoes, three acres of Bell pepper, 10 acres of Okro, two acres of Bonnet pepper, 15 acres of maize, two acres of cucumber, 32 cattle, 41 sheep, 13 goats, 36 local fowls, and 15 guinea fowls.

Suleman Zakaria Ginkor, 34, from Bawku and a graduate of the University of Development Studies, Wa, was adjudged runner-up, whiles Madam Rejoice Hetty Ayivor, from Denu in the Volta Region was awarded Best Crop Farmer in the Municipality.

Best Livestock Farmer went to Baba Osman Iddrisu, while Gideon Buernor Apetorgbor was awarded Best Agriculture Extension Agent in the Tema West Municipality.

Mrs Adwoa Amoako, Municipal Chief Executive, Tema West Municipal Assembly, in a keynote address, paid glowing tribute to farmers and fisherfolks in the Municipality and said “in spite of the challenges Covid-19 posed to farmers nationwide, there was no shortage of food production in the country.”

Read also Farmers Day 2020: Vida Boame emerges best Krachi East Municipal farmer

This year’s Municipal Farmers’ Day commemoration, held at the Tema Senior High School in Tema Community Five, was on the national theme “Ensuring Agribusiness Development under Covid-19; Opportunities and Challenges.”

According to her, the theme for this year re-emphasized the position that the agricultural sector had placed itself in promoting agribusiness development under Covid – 19, which required the consumption of more fruits and vegetables to boost the immune system.

Mr Alfred Nii Ayi Clottey, Director of Agriculture, Tema West Municipal Assembly, said irrespective of the challenges of Covid-19, the municipality undertook some activities in crop production, market extension, fisheries and livestock production as it continued to work in communities to undertake the processing and marketing of agricultural produce.

Read also Accessing loan and chemicals in COVID-19 was difficult – Hohoe Best Farmer

Under the government’s flagship programme – Planting for Food and Jobs, he noted that some 769 farmers in the municipality benefited from highly subsidized prices for maize and vegetable inputs including improved seeds and fertilizers.

“As part of the programme, 321 farmers, both males and females, whose farms were affected by the fall army warm were supplied with agrochemicals by the government to spray and control the situation. This has resulted in a drastic reduction in the invasion of these warms due to extension education.”

He added, 50 farmers, benefited from cockerels distributed under the government’s “Rearing for Food and Jobs” and said “in the area of fisheries, there was close collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries for fisheries activities in the municipality.”

Read also Review selection process and criteria for the National Best Farmer Award – Peasant Farmers

Mr Ayi Clottey said the uncontrolled real estate development in Municipality was stripping urban Tema of fertile lands for agricultural purposes, explaining that it was detrimental to food security if the trend was not urgently reversed.

Mr Carlos Ahenkora, Member of Parliament, Tema West Constituency, whiles reiterating the takeover of agrarian lands by real estate developers in the municipality, said agriculture was struggling to maintain its stake and if care was not taken, lands would be unavailable in the future for commercial farming.

We’ve created vibrant agric sector; Ghana now net exporter of foodstuffs – Akufo-Addo

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says his tenure of office, over the last three years and ten months, has seen to the creation of a vibrant agricultural sector in Ghana, with the country, during the period, transformed into a net exporter of foodstuffs.

Speaking at the 36th Farmers’ Day celebration, which was held on Friday, 6th November 2020, in Techiman, capital of the Bono East Region, the President noted that, in the immediate years before his assumption of office, the performance of the agricultural sector was nothing short of abysmal, evidenced by growth rates of 0.9% in 2014 and 2.9% in 2016.

In order to remedy the situation, he told the gathering that his Government took the bold decision to embark on a well-thought-through programme for the modernisation and transformation of Ghana’s agriculture, which included increasing productivity on smallholding farms; enhancing food security; diversifying agricultural export earnings; promoting agro-industrialization and import substitution; and creating jobs for the youth.

“This led to the birth of the programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ), in April 2017, which provided strategic direction for realising the stated objectives. The initial focus of the programme was to support the productivity and output of selected food crops, through the provision of heavily subsidised improved seeds and fertilizers,” President Akufo-Addo said.

He continued, “The PFJ has since evolved, over the years, to reflect the comprehensive nature of Government’s strategy to improve agriculture with the introduction of five modules, i.e. food crops, Planting for Export and Rural Development (Tree Crops Module), Rearing for Food and Jobs (Livestock Module), Greenhouse Villages (Horticulture Module), and Farm Mechanisation and Agro-processing (Mechanisation Module)”.

All five modules, the President explained, have contributed to the creation of the vibrant agriculture we are experiencing in Ghana, albeit with some modules yet to be fully implemented.

“Today, our nation has banished the disgraceful spectre of importing tomatoes and plantain from Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire respectively, we are now a net exporter of food, and our youth are venturing into full-time agriculture,” he added.

Read also Farmers’ day 2020: Resilient agricultural sector helped our COVID-19 fight – Akufo-Addo

Food crops module
According to President Akufo-Addo, the food crops module has resulted in an appreciable increase in yields of selected staples, with those of maize and rice, for example, increasing by 110% and 48% respectively from 2016 to 2019, whilst local production of rice accounts for 50% of domestic demand, up from 32% as at 2017.

All of this, the President stressed, has been made possible by the substantial increase in the distribution of improved seeds to farmers, from 4,400 metric tons in 2016, to 18,333 metric tons in 2019, and 29,000 metric tons in 2020.

With Ghana making considerable strides in its efforts to increase the use of fertilizer, from 8kg per hectare in 2016 to 20kg per hectare at the end of 2019, he indicated that Government has, since 2017, recruited 2,700 extension officers, translating into an improved extension officer to farmer ratio, from 1:1,908 in 2016, to 1:706.

Another major intervention under the food crop module, according to President Akufo-Addo, has been the construction of 80 one-thousand-metric ton capacity warehouses throughout the country.

Read also A 46-year-old caterer wins New Juaben South best farmer award

Tree Crops Module
Touching on the tree crops module of PFJ, popularly referred to as “Planting for Export and Rural Development” (PERD), which he launched in April 2019, President Akufo-Addo stated that Government has taken the decision to develop cashew, coffee, shea, mango, coconut, rubber and oil palm into cash crops, in addition to cocoa.

“The target for each of these selected crops is to earn a minimum of US$2 billion each year from 2028. This target translates to a total of some US$14 billion annually, compared to the US$2.3 billion from cocoa today,” he added.

This added focus, he stressed, “does not mean turning our back on the crop that has been the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy for over a hundred years – cocoa”, evidenced in the establishment of the $600 million National Cocoa Rehabilitation programme, and increase in the producer price for a bag of cocoa from GH¢415 to GH¢660, the highest ever in the nation’s history.

Livestock Module
Explaining the rationale for the establishment of this module, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the purpose of the module is to scale up local production of poultry and livestock, as well as to reduce the country’s dependence on meat imports, valued annually at US$340 million.

“Commencing in 2019, with the distribution of improved breeds of small ruminants, pigs and cockerels to farmers throughout the country, Government is currently facilitating access to concessionary loans for value chain actors to support production, processing and marketing of meat products. At full-scale, it is projected to reduce progressively the importation of meat products in the country by up to 70% by the year 2025”, he said.

Read also Farmers Day 2020: Carpenter adjudged New Juaben North Overall Best Farmer

Green Villages
Government, President Akufo-Addo said, is promoting the greenhouse village concept to ensure the production of high-value vegetables for local consumption, and to enhance the competitiveness of Ghana’s horticulture products on the international market.

“I have, thus far, commissioned three (3) greenhouse villages at Dawhenya in the Greater Accra Region, Akumadan in the Ashanti Region, and Bawjiase in Central Region. Two hundred and ninety-six (296) university graduates and diploma holders have been trained, with one hundred and ninety (190) of them benefiting from an eleven (11) month paid internship in the Kibbutzim in Israel,” he added.

Mechanisation
In order to move away from the dependence on manual labour that smallholder farmers have become accustomed to, President Akufo-Addo stated that Government, through the More Food Programme, has supplied 230 tractors and 11,450 assorted machinery and equipment from Brazil, since 2017.

Additionally, concessionary agreements have been concluded with India and the Czech Republic for the supply of a large consignment of farm and processing machinery, including hand-held farm implements to be sold at a subsidised rate.

“From 2021, the Exim Bank of India will facilitate the supply of farm machinery, agro-processing and other value-adding machines to the tune of one hundred and fifty million United States dollars (US$150 million),” he said.

Chairperson, let me also give an account of some of the other interventions put in place by Government to boost the development of agriculture.

Irrigation
With Ghana having, since independence, put only 3.2% of its arable land under irrigation, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that “since 2017, the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) has completed 10 out of 14 small dams.”

Additionally, he added that the rehabilitation of the Kpong Left and Right bank irrigation schemes and the Tono irrigation scheme is ongoing, and, once completed, 7,690 hectares of land will be put under irrigation.

“Government has also initiated the construction of the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam, which will put an additional 24,000 hectares of land under irrigation. Additionally, the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives has constructed some 500 small dams in the Northern Regions of Ghana,” he added.

Read also No livestock disease in Ningo-Prampram – District Director of Agriculture

Food Exports
One clear indicator attesting to the overwhelming success of the food crops module under the PFJ, according to President Akufo-Addo, is the export of Ghana foodstuffs to neighbouring countries.

“Based on official records at the Statistics Research and Information Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana exported some 130,000 metric tons of 19 different food items to neighbouring countries in 2018, valued at the equivalent of US$90 million.

“Reports of scores of traders from neighbouring countries in the ECOWAS Region doing brisk business in grains in the northern parts of the country are clear indications of the new business opportunities opening up in the country for agriculture,” he said.

Kufuor praised as he retires from Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition

The international community has praised former President John Agyekum Kufuor as he retires from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.

The former president has been co-chair of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition since its inception in 2013.

Through his leadership, the Panel has delivered 18 evidence-based policy and technical briefs covering various aspects of food systems, together with two foresight reports.

“It has also convened several round table events with governments in Sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia to inform decision-makers on evidence-based policies to help deliver healthy diets for all.

Fellow co-chair, Sir John Beddington said, “I speak on behalf of my fellow Panel members when I say we have been very privileged to have worked alongside John Kufuor during the last seven years.

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“His knowledge and status have both enriched our work and given us unparalleled access to leaders across Africa, and beyond.”

“Whilst President Kufuor is irreplaceable, the Global Panel will ensure that his vision, desire and passion to transform food systems so they provide safe, affordable and accessible diets that support human and planetary health, will continue,” a statement on the website of the Panel said.

Wendy Morton who is Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas at the Foreign Commonwealth Office in the UK and MP for Aldridge-Brownhills congratulated the former president on his retirement.

In a tweet, she said; “tackling global issues like malnutrition needs tireless leadership and dedication which John A. Kufuor gave ceaselessly.”

“As he retires as co-chair of the Global Panel, I thank him for his work to improve food systems, helping people live healthier lives and protecting our planet,” she noted.

The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition is an independent international group of leaders who hold, or have held, high office and show strong personal commitment to improving nutrition.

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It was formally established in August 2013 at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London and is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

It works with international, multi-sector stakeholders, to help governments in low- and middle-income countries develop evidence-based policies that make high quality diets safe, affordable and accessible.

As former President of Ghana, winner of the World Food Prize for Food and Agriculture in 2011, and former World Food Programme Global Ambassador against Hunger, Mr. Kufuor has gained global acclaim for his unique understanding of how food systems can support better nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

His wealth of knowledge, high status and positive influence have allowed the Global Panel to effect change at the very highest level.

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He founded the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) initiative, alongside Global Panel member and President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwimi Adesina, and the late Mr Kofi Annan (1938-2018), former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

This high-level initiative is now driving political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa.

It is led by an eminent group of ALN Champions, comprising of current and former heads of state, finance ministers and leaders with the power to catalyse and sustain high-level political leadership and commitment to end malnutrition in Africa.

The former President was also instrumental in helping the Global Panel convene high-level inter-Ministerial meetings in Ghana, including with His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, where there was agreement to accelerate progress to tackle malnutrition in Ghana.

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This culminated in signing a consensus statement in March 2019, which pointed the way forward for multi-sectoral action on food systems to promote healthy diets.

Through the John A. Kufuor Foundation, President Kufuor has also maintained his heartfelt support to fight all forms of malnutrition in Ghana.

Partnering with the United Nations World Food Programme, he drove forward a nationwide strategic review of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) leading to President Akufo-Addo launching the Ghana Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report in 2017.

He has also supported the inauguration of the Ghana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to ensure that nutrition advocacy is consolidated and more effective.

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At the heart of all his achievements is President Kufuor’s personal desire to see food systems transformed so that they provide safe, affordable and healthy diets for all whilst protecting and nurturing planetary resources.

He has recently stated that “food and nutrition are central to the stability of mankind.”

“And while the former president is stepping down from active duty as Co-Chair of the Global Panel, his unparalleled expertise will still be called upon from time to time and his legacy will continue to influence generations to come,” the Panel said in a statement.

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