AGRA invests US$16 million in agriculture

FARMRTThe Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) invested $16 million in the Agricultural Value Chain Facility (AVCF) project in its five year project to enhance agriculture in the country.

About 70,000 farmer households from the three regions of the North and Brong Ahafo who benefited directly and indirectly from the project were able to produce an average of 3.2 metric tons of their crops as compared to previous production to reduce the poverty rate.

The project also assisted some agro dealers, small scale and medium enterprises in capacity building to acquire more knowledge on their businesses while 385 demonstration plots were set up as training grounds for farmers.

This enabled the beneficiaries to enjoy bumper harvest during the project period which went a long way to improve their family income as well generate funds to expand their agriculture crops.

AVCF project by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) from 2011 to 2015 in the Northern Region with support from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through AGRA and other partners is to serve as a platform to engage large scale agro-industries and financial institutions with smallholder farmers and other value chain intermediaries.

Over the past fivers AGRA through the AVCF project funded by DANIDA, piloted and learnt valuable lessons from the Integrated Agricultural Value Chain (IAVC) delivering model involved several actors from the three regions of the North.

Mr kwesi Ampofo Ghana’s Country Director for AGRA announced this at an Agricultural Value Chain Facility (AVCF) project stakeholder forum in Tamale aimed at sharing the results, experience and lessons learnt on the project since its five years implementation period.

He noted that farmers are unable to cultivate year round due to climate change and lack of irrigational scheme to engage in year round farming.

He therefore called on government and other donor agencies to support in the rehabilitation and establishment of irrigational systems for the farmers.

‘Agricultural is the second country earners but has for the past years received less attention which is affecting production’ he stated.

He also called on government to put premium on Agriculture in the country to transform the industry to alleviate poverty.

Mr Ampofo reiterated the commitment of AGRA to collaborate with other agencies to get the farmers a satellite system that would provide information on the weather patterns to guide in their farming activities to boost production and alleviate poverty.

He noted that the farmers encounter challenges during their farming seasons due to low rainfall and lack of farm inputs to facilitate their production.

According to the country Director, the intervention of AGRA has helped to improve the production of farmers with ready markets for their produce.

“We provided training and other technical supports to the farmers to adapt to modern agricultural practice which most were able to harvest majority of their crops which we believe went a long way to improve their livelihoods” he said.

He stressed that the organisation is poised towards transforming the sector in the regions of the North and Brong Ahafo through its 2015-2020 strategic plans of the organization which would focus more on collaborative partnership in transforming agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers in Africa to reduce food insecurity.

He urged the farmers and the actors to form groups to receive more support to improve their farming activities and commended some financial institutions for their support for the farmers.

Mr Isaac Kankam-Boadu, Project Manager for ADRA Ghana’s Integrated Agricultural Production Improvement and Marketing Project (INTAPIMP) said the project also provided tractors to some farmers to facilitate their farming activities.

We also trained about 722 agricultural volunteer extension officers to assist the farmers and some artisans to design structures to store the produce of the farmers to prevent theft and destruction.

He stressed that though many women were involved in the previous project, the new project is targeting more women since they contribute to the household chores.

He said the INTAPIMP is the first AGRA-funded integrated grant project to provide training and technical support to farmers (FBOs), Agro-dealers and SMEs by a single organization.

The Support to Private Sector Development – Phase II (SPSD II) project targeting 50,000 smallholder staple crops farmers (30,000 directly and 20,000 indirectly) to cultivate maize, soya beans, rice and groundnuts he added.

He urged the farmers to adapt to the combination of composed and chemical fertilizer to improve their yields adding that accessing fertilizer and applying to the fields pose a challenge and therefore urged government to recruit more extension officers to the rural areas.

Mr Adam Sheini a farmer and beneficiary expressed gratitude to ADRA and ADRA for their support of improved seeds,150kg of fertilizers and ploughing services to improve his cultivation.

He said the intervention has helped to increase crop yields from two bags to eight(8) bags per acres in the first year and last year harvested 14 bags as a result of the adoption of better agricultural technologies and good farm management practices.

Mr Sheini advised colleague farmers to harness on the opportunities available to enhance their produce.

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