12,000 farmers to benefit from $104m agric initiative

About 12,000 farmers in the Northern sector of the country are to benefit from a $104 million agriculture initiative by the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) aimed at reducing poverty.

The project called, “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV), would reach out to the 12,000 farmers through 90 commercial farmers serving as a link between the project coordinators and the small farm holders.

The commercial farms would support the small holder farmers with access credits, inputs and other technical support during the 2012 farming season.

They would also be responsible for further channelling these resources and expertise to low income farmers in the Upper East, Upper West and parts of the Brong Ahafo region.

Mr Roy Ayariga, National Co-ordinator of the NRGP, disclosed this at an interface meeting between commercial farmers and financial institutions, input dealers and marketers, organised by the NRGP in Tamale on Tuesday.

The project is being co-funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), African Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Ghana.

The National Co-ordinator said the approach adopted would make it easy for banks and input dealers to reach out to smallholder farmers and also to recover the loans.

“We have identified these commercial farmers because we know it is through them that we can reach the poor farmers. They would serve as the magnet to attract the necessary investments and then diffuse it to all other farmers in their area,” he explained.

Mr Ayariga said since the NRGP kick-started its projects, it had attracted several banks into its programmes and this had consequently increased credits to farmers.

Throwing more light on the SPV initiative, Mr Emmanuel Antwi, the Rural Financial Services Specialist of the NRGP, said the farmers who would be selected under the SPV project would be able to access finance from a number of funding sources including the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), Outgrower and Value Chain-Fund, Stanbic/Danida Guarantee Fund Scheme and the Agric Development Bank (ADB).

He said the farmers could also access credit from 22 rural banks located in the operational areas of the NRGP.

Mr Antwi said as one of the criteria, any farmer who wants to be selected as an SPV must have not less than 20 hectares of commodities in the NRGP operational area and must have 50 or more out growers.

The farmer must also have existing financial arrangements and markets, among others.

Mr Emmanuel Osei Akuamoah, Head of Corporate Communications and Facility Management for Venture Capital Trust Fund said that the fund was interested in the SPV initiative because it would help it reach out to farmers cultivating crops such as sorghum, soya and yellow maize, which have ready market.

He explained that farmers who wanted to access the fund must meet its requirements such as having a fully-registered entity.

Participants at the meeting expressed their joy and called on the authorities of the initiative and its partners to expedite action on the commencement of the project.

Mr Bisalom Jagbel, a cereal farmer at Kpandai said the project would help him and other farmers to access the right inputs.

Source: GNA

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