By Iddi Yire, GNA
Ho, May 2 GNA - Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), the implementer of the Ghana Commercialisation of Rice Project (G-CORP), has organized a project close-out workshop in Ho.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) provided the funding and technical support for the three-and-a- half- year G-CORP project.
The project which aimed at increasing the productivity and incomes of 4,000 smallholder farmers in the Volta Region ended successfully, having achieved the expected results.
The close-up workshop was attended by beneficiary farmer groups, aggregators, rice millers, and other stakeholders from the private and public sectors, as well as representatives from AGRA.
The close-out workshop reflected on the projects’ achievements which included building the business and management capacity of 20 aggregators to extend improved services to over 4,700 smallholder farmers.
Others were, the establishment of 176 hectares of demonstration plots; direct training of over 2,700 smallholders in good agricultural practices, postharvest handling and quality management, group dynamics, business planning and financial management.
Also targeted was the use of radio broadcast to deliver extension services to an estimated 10,000 farmers on improved rice agronomic practices and post-harvest technologies for rice growing communities within the coverage of the two FM Radio stations (KUUL and Lorlornyo).
There was also the production of 4,045 additional metric tonnes of paddy rice valued at GH₵ 5,115,800.98 supplied through smallholder schemes to GADCO and WRML representing 85 per cent of total paddy processed and sold.
Dr Betty Annan, ASI Ghana Country Director, said: “Apart from several other achievements, we also facilitated access to mechanised harvest services for over 3,000 outgrowers, thereby improving the quality of paddy they delivered.
“We also encouraged financial inclusiveness, by introducing secure and easy access payment mechanisms by partnering with Tigo Cash to set up mobile money payment platforms for commercial mills to pay their smallholder suppliers.
“Through this platform, over 1,815 smallholders enrolled have received Tigo Cash payments amounting to GH₵ 2, 904, 100.00”.
She said one key advantage of the G-CORP project was that it strengthened the relationship between smallholder farmers and lead agribusiness investors, principally the Global Agri-Development Company, (GADCO) under their Copa Connect initiative, and Worawora Rice Mills (WRM) under their Emo Mpuntuo Scheme.
She noted that these lead investors reached out to smallholder rice farmers who did not have direct access to major markets by working through a network of community level product aggregators.
Dr Annan said the investors then delivered high quality inputs including seed, fertilizer and crop protection, as well as agricultural extension and product aggregation services to their out-growers through the aggregators.
She said the project offered the opportunity for its beneficiaries to share experiences and to engage with other stakeholders in order to move their businesses forward.
“The project achieved its targets through two interlinked components which together increased the efficiency and effectiveness of input service delivery including extension and product aggregation,” she said.
Dr Kwasi Ampofo, the Country Head of AGRA Ghana, lauded ASI Ghana for the feat in the implementation of the project.
He said AGRA would continue to support the efforts of government and all other stakeholders in making Ghana self-reliant in rice production.
Torgbui Azadagli III, the Ho Municipal Director of Agriculture said rice production in the Volta Region had taken an increased dimension in relation to the shift in taste of the urban population and consumer habits.
He said the Region had over 20,000 hectares of land available for upland rice production and over 40,000 hectares of land for low land rice production which could be harnessed for the nation's socio-economic development.
ASI is an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, a non-profit international development organization which has over 52 years of experience expanding economic opportunities through programmes in five core technical areas, namely agribusiness, food security, community development, financial services, and enterprise development. ACDI/VOCA currently operates 75 programmes in 35 countries.
Together, ASI and ACDI/VOCA have been working in Ghana for the past eight years, implementing market-driven agricultural development programmes funded by several donors.
AGRA is an African-led alliance whose vision is a food-secure and prosperous future for all Africans.
Its mission is to catalyze and sustain agricultural transformation in Africa through innovation-driven productivity increases and access to markets and finance that can improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
It is focused on putting farmers at the centre of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle for survival into farming as a business that thrives.
AGRA is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and has a West Africa Regional office in Accra, Ghana.