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Business News of Thursday, 14 May 2015

Source: B&FT

New AGRA project targets 10,000 farmers

Over ten thousand smallholder farmers, mostly women and youth, are set to benefit from an Enhanced Integrated Soil Fertility Management (EISFERM) project being funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and implemented by the Tumu Deanery Rural Integration Development Programme (TUDRIDEP).

The project targets smallholder farmers from very deprived households in four districts in the Upper West Region: including the Sissala East, Sissala West, Wa East, and Daffiama-Busie-Issa districts. The project intends to reduce high poverty rates, through increased production of soya beans and maize for food security and increased family incomes, by adopting good and sustainable integrated soil fertility management practices.

At the launch event of the project at the Sissala East District Assembly at Tumu, the District Chief Executive, Honorable Johnson Bagsulo Sabuah, noted that efforts of NGOs to be involved in agricultural development in Ghana is good news, and the Sissala East district will provide the enabling environment for such efforts to thrive.

The inception workshop was organised to create awareness of the project among stakeholders, make clear the roles of the various stakeholders in the project, and to plan for the project’s take-off at the community level.

“We are focused to increase smallholder-farmer productivity and improve their livelihoods through improved inputs and innovative soil management systems. This is in line with our commitment to make innovative technologies available to farmers, particularly women and the youth, in order to transform Africa’s agriculture at all levels,” said Dr. Zacharie Zida, Programme Officer of AGRA in charge of the newly-launched project.

The project also responds to smallholder-farmers’ productivity, food security and family income needs, with specific objectives of increasing farmers’ access to agricultural inputs such as improved seeds, fertilisers and credit; increasing soybean and maize yields through the use of ISFM practices; and promoting business linkages among soy-bean and maize value chain actors.

For the project to achieve its set objectives, it will promote the development of demonstration plots, training of farmers and Farmer Based organisations, and facilitate linkages among public and private service providers.

The project is an integrated type that addresses value chain concerns: including appropriate combination of both organic and chemical fertilizers; appropriate application of improved pest and weed management techniques; adoption of improved high-yielding seed varieties; use of innovative post-harvest management techniques; and linkages among input dealers and financial institutions.

TUDRIDEP will fall on the expertise of other partners to ensure that targetted farmers, mostly women and youth, will derive benefits from the project. Key collaborators therefore include CSIR Savanna AgriculturalResearch Institute (SARI); the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA); the Ghana Seed Company; the Ghana Seed Growers Association; input dealers, and financial institutions. These will perform various strategic roles to make the project’s expected outcomes a reality.

The task of the Project Manager, Mr. Aloysius Kanchog, by close-out is to have increased the production of soybeans and maize among targetted smallholder farmers -- through good ISFM practices and improved linkages among smallholder farmers, inputs dealers, seed companies, and financial institutions. The targetted farmers are expected to have access to structured markets for their produce, and also have their skills in post-harvest handling greatly improved.