AGRA invests 85 million dollars in smallholder farming

The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has invested over 85 million dollars as grants, to expand the capacities of some 800,000 smallholder farmers, to access improved crop varieties, especially in the breadbasket areas in Ghana.

The aim is to transform the agricultural potential of Ghana, which had been a priority of AGRA, with specific objective of transforming agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers to reduce poverty and food insecurity.

Dr Kwasi Ampofo, Country Head of AGRA, disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale on Wednesday.

He indicated that some two million people would be reached through the grant system, to get them out of poverty by the year 2020, through sustainable use of quality seeds, fertilizer and policy reforms.

AGRA, which is being funded by the Bills and Rockefeller Foundations, partners with some government and private sector implementing organizations, to roll out practical and effective projects that would be beneficial to the smallholder farmers to improve their economic conditions.

“AGRA believes that Ghana has the potential to transform its smallholder farming into a commercially viable and sustainable enterprise.

AGRA is focusing on strengthening smallholder agriculture in the country’s potential breadbasket areas,” Dr Ampofo said.

Dr Ampofo said AGRA worked with seed value chain actors to get good seeds to farmers, built networks of agro-dealers to supply farmers with critical inputs, expanding farmer access to affordable credits and linking farmers to buyers.

He indicated that AGRA’s breadbasket strategy was in line with the Government of Ghana’s Medium-Term Agricultural Development Plan, to transform the country’s agricultural sector.

Madam Garcia Armelle Chedoi Honvoh, Head of Business Development of Image-AD Ghana, briefing journalists at Nyankpala, said her outfit had received 957,475 dollars under AGRA’s Market Access Programme, to provide mobile and internet-based software, that would link thousands of farmers in Ghana with a wide range of information and services, to boost crop yields and to locate buyers to make transactions more transparent.

She said the project known as mFarms, had profiled over 20,000 farmers in Ghana on the platform, which allows them to build relationships with marketing agents and other aggregators for mutual benefits.

Madam Honvoh indicated that the technology used mobile phones and software to send SMS and voice messages to farmers about extension services, marketing and all other important messages relating to agriculture, to ensure that smallholder farmers achieved increased productivity across the value chain.

Mr Toatoba Joshua, Operations Manager of Savanna Farms Marketing Company, indicated that his company, which deals with farmers and buyers, had utilized the mFarms software and had achieved cost reduction since bulk messages could be sent to many farmers at a go, regarding agricultural produce.

Madam Mariam Alhassan of Wumpini Agro-Chemicals, an agro-chemical dealer based in Tamale, said the company makes good use of the platform to sell its products to retailers. GNA

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