The United Kingdom government is investing over £14 million pounds into the implementation of a pro-poor programme dubbed; “The Market Development Programme for Northern Ghana (MADE).”
The five-year programme is intended to galvanize potential aggregators and nucleus farmers to support rural smallholder farmers and small scale entrepreneurs in the Savannah Ecological zone.
This intervention forms part of the UK government’s loyalty to unlock agribusiness and investment opportunities in the Northern Savannah Ecological zone.
With Augustine Adongo as the team leader, the MADE programme is under the auspices of the Department of International Development (DFID).
The project would be up-scaled in 63 selected districts within the Northern Savannah Ecological zone where poverty is endemic.
The British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin at the official launch in Tamale, described MADE as the UK government’s leading agriculture development programme meant to showcase agribusiness investment opportunities in Northern Ghana.
“Fundamentally, the programme was designed to change and improve market interactions between the main players in the agriculture value chain such as the producers, the farmers, the entrepreneurs and the service providers.”
He said the project will serve as a platform to test values and ideas which will help improve the agriculture value chain.
“The aim of the programme is to wrap up agriculture productivity in Ghana and in particular in the north as well as to attract the much needed private sector investment in this sector.”
He further explained the objective of the MADE programme saying, “That is why we are involved through this programme MADE to try and improve access to markets, private sector investment in the agriculture sector so that this potential can be reached hopefully.”
According to him, market systems in Northern Ghana would be improved to meet international standards as means of improving rural livelihood.
“So in short, we fundamentally want to make market systems in the north of Ghana operate better and to link this to national and global markets.”
Jon Benjamin revealed that the MADE programme since its implementation in 2014, achieved its objective of deepening partnership between northern entrepreneurs and agricultural companies in southern Ghana.
He said the programme as a facilitator managed to attract private sector seed and input dealer companies into the north of Ghana who are into partnership with over 10,000 smallholder farmers and aggregators MADE has been working with.
Gov’t must reduce importation
The British High Commissioner tasked government to reduce its wage bill on rice, tomato and vegetable importation.
“Ghana can look to decrease its export expenditure by replacing some of those exports with home grown products particularly in the agriculture sector. This sort of project potentially has a lot of benefits particularly to the main recipients; but also more widely for the economy.”
He raised alarm over the unfulfilled agriculture potentials found in Northern Ghana and challenged government to overturn the situation.
“Ghana is importing onions and tomatoes from Burkina Faso that could easily be produced here so that speaks to unfulfilled potential and also speaks to the fact that too many farmers operate on subsistence level where outside the system they could scale up and earn more income for their families.”
The Northern Regional Minister, Abubakari Abdullah, lauded the UK Government’s contribution to the nation’s economic growth.
He expected that it will boost agriculture which is the mainstay of most rural dwellers.
“I am particularly excited because the objective of MADE is to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in the Northern Savannah Ecological zone from 2013 to 2018. This programme will serve as a springboard to promote not only agriculture in the northern zone but also to open opportunities for potential investors in the agriculture value chain.”
Abubakari Abdullah said about 60% of the population of people in the three regions of the north are peasant farmers who need interventions like MADE to promote agriculture as a business and to boost food security.
A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan reiterated government’s commitment to invest in the agric sector.
He projected that the MADE programme will help rural smallholder farmers shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture.
He said government will continue to serve as a facilitator by encouraging private sector investment in the agric sector.
Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan called for attitudinal change towards the agric sector to facilitate agribusiness and investment.
Considering the enormous business potentials uncovered in Northern Ghana, Executive Director of the Association of Ghana Industries, Seth Twum-Akwaboah urged potential investors to embrace the MADE programme.
He said agriculture remained the occupational characteristic of people of the three regions of the north, hence the need for huge investment in the sector.
Seth Twum-Akwaboah maintained that, the agric sector should be revamped to curtail the influx of youth migration to southern Ghana in search of non-existing white colour jobs.
The maiden edition of the agribusiness and investment event was launched on the theme, ‘The north is ready for business, are you?’
Over a hundred local and multinational exhibitors participated in the agribusiness and investment event.