About 2,000 rural agro dealers benefit from Ghana Agro-Dealer Development

About 2,200 rural agro dealers in Ghana have benefited from a 2.5 million dollar credit facility from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC).

The facility is to support agro dealers and 150 seed producers to increase agricultural productivity, incomes and well-being of about 850,000 small-holder farmers in Ghana.

Dr Kofi Debrah, Country Representative of IFDC disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra on Tuesday.

He said it was a project that sought to increase small-holder farmers’ productivity and rural incomes in Ghana by making inputs available and accessible to rural farmers and link them to the market.

Dr Debrah noted that the project would provide credit facility through a credit guarantee programme with the management of UT Bank to agro dealers.

The three-year project which started in October 2008, is expected to end in the last quarter of 2011.

He said the interventions by AGRA particularly to link farmers to market would help remove the frustrations farmers undergo in selling their produce and boost farmers’ desire to increase productivity to meet the country’s food requirements.

The Ghana Agro-Dealer Development (GADD) project would also help increase the availability, accessibility, quality and affordable agro-inputs and seed in rural areas for sustainable agriculture.

Dr Debrah observed that about 30 per cent of farmers on the continent had access to improved seeds for cultivation.

He said some of the interventions by AGRA to salvage the situation were to help train people in seed production and agro dealer development.

Mr Isaac Asare, Project Manager of GADD, who gave a brief description of the project, said it had compiled the profile and geographical location as well as the sales point of over 3,000 inputs dealers and 200 seed producers.

He noted that the move was to bridge the gap between the two institutions to enable farmers to have access to certified seeds during farming seasons.

“In order to provide more responsive services to the agro dealers’ to provide more improved seeds to farmers, the project has developed a mobile and internet application platform that would help link seed producers to agro-input dealers,” he said.

“The project has also established SMS mobile telephony applications to link up agro-input dealers with seed producers”.

Mr Asare said activities undertaken included the training and technical assistance to build the capacity of agro-dealers in creating business linkages with seed and other inputs suppliers.

He said GADD had encouraged agro-dealers to join agro-input trade associations and provide the organisational training and support to Ghana Agriculture Associations Business and Information Centre (GAABIC).

“GADD also trains dealers in the value and methods of providing service to farmers such as field demonstrations, soil testing to transfer technology and best agricultural practices,” he added.

Mr Fred Tagoe, President of the Greater Accra Chapter of Ghana Agri-Input Dealers Association, told the GNA that the project had strengthened their operations in the form of training and provision of soft loans.

“Initially, people were ‘doing their own thing’, as in the selling of fake agro chemicals and adulteration of seeds which negatively affected the operations of farmers. The project has brought sanity in the agro industry.

“With the training programmes organised for the association twice annually, we have insight into office management practice and more education on agro-chemicals and its uses”.

AGRA is a partnership working across Africa to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

Its programmes are based on developing practical solutions to boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment.

AGRA advocates for policies that support its work across all key aspects of the African agricultural value chain – from seeds, soil health and water to markets and agricultural education.

Source: GNA

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