Smallholder farmers in Ghana typically face several challenges preventing them from producing better yields. Among the lack of access to credit, inputs, storage facilities and infrastructure, a big influence on them is the belief that increasing production only serves to make the local market crash and prices plummet.
Back in 2008, fertilizer company Yara initiated a partnership with local growers in Ghana to address these challenges from production to market. Working with local government, donors, private sector, scientists and farming communities, they commenced on working to provide the apparatus for marketing, warehousing, logistics and input services that would help farmers to stabilise and optimise their production and market prices.
The Ghana Grains Partnership focuses on maize, of which low production is a major problem in Western Africa. The initiative set to offer a holistic approach to the challenges faced in the agricultural value chain. Yara Ghana, together with Ghanaian inputs trader Wienco, financed the initial inputs requirements and coordinated the supply of fertilizers. A revolving credit fund was established, helping to attract further private sector participation in rural agriculture. Along with Yara and Wienco, the partnership involves a variety of both public and private institutions: the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), farmers’ associations, the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture, commercial banks, output buyers and traders.
Ensuring that the farmers could make the most of the partnership, training in accessing appropriate credit, suitable inputs, and profitable output value chains was also provided.
After a successful fast-track plan in 2008, a larger scale model, including the launch of the growers’ association Masara N’Arziki (“Maize for Prosperity”), is now being rolled out over Ghana’s three northern regions. The association offers a programme package including provision of fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, spraying equipment, and technical advisory and training services.
In order to explain the benefits of joining the association to farmers, a sensitization project was undertaken initially, following which about 2,200 farmers signed up and over 10,000 acres were cultivated. Through relevant training, extension and inputs distribution, average yields improved significantly by the end of the first year.