SIF to invest US$3.1 million to boost agribusiness

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The Social Investment Fund (SIF) is to provide US$3.1 million in loans to boost agribusiness across 22 selected districts in the country.

Mr. Joseph Acheampong, Executive Director of the Fund, said about 4,000 farmers, 40 per cent of them women, would benefit and that this was coming under its Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP).

The Arab Bank for International Development (BADEA) and OPEC Fund for International Development are funding the four-year programme and the disbursement would be done through the financial institutions.

He announced this at a three-day capacity building workshop for agriculture extension officers, district officers of the department of cooperatives and partner financial institutions from six of the beneficiary districts from Ashanti and the Brong-Ahafo Regions in Kumasi.

These are Afigya-Kwabre, Ahafo-Ano South, Asunafo North, Nkoranza North, Sene East and Sene West.

The goal was to discuss ways of aiding the farmers to adopt best practices to increase production levels to achieve optimal returns.

Agribusiness and farm management, post-harvest management, agricultural value chain financing and the safe use of agro chemicals, dominated the discussions.

Mr. Acheampong said SIF was collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Ministry to ensure the success of the programme to create wealth and jobs for the people.

It was important for farmers to be assisted to see their activities as a business and to operate as such to transform their living conditions, he added.

He said the decision to disburse the money through the banks was to make sure that it was repaid on schedule.

Mr. Kwaku Minka Fordjour, the Ashanti Regional Director of Agriculture, welcomed the intervention as a right step considering the fact that lack of funding was a major difficulty facing Ghanaian farmers.

He said the programme would not only help to significantly improve agriculture extension services in the selected districts but also encourage beneficiary farmers to adopt a more business-like approach to farming.

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