Farmers get relief as Dalex injects millions into rice production

June 30, 2017
Source: Rashidatu Ibrahim l thebftonline.com l Ghana
Farmers get relief as Dalex injects millions into rice production

About 10,000 rice farmers in the Northern Region are expected to benefit from a partnership between Shinkaafa Buni, a rice farmers association and Dalex Finance Company Ltd. (DALEX) that will provide credit to boost production.

The partnership, which will provide some GH¢5m to the beneficiaries, will be used to acquire farming inputs including improved seeds, fertilizer, and combined harvesters to ensure prompt and efficient harvesting of the rice.

Addressing the media at a press conference in Accra to announce the deal, Chief Executive Officer of DALEX, Kenneth Kwamina Thompson, expressed his outfit’s pride in seeking to allocate profitable and sustainable model to fund small-holder farmers.

According to him, the country’s future economy lies in agriculture, urging financial institutions to take the time to understand the sector, and invest more into agribusinesses, adding that it is more profitable.

“The finance houses should come on board because they will earn returns. They should come in early because if they are late, by the time they come, we would have taken all the money,” he told the B&FT in an interview shortly after the event.

While increasing production of local rice, the initiative is also expected to reduce the importation of rice unto the Ghanaian market.

The latest Oxford Business Report revealed that only 34 percent of rice consumed in the country is produced locally, resulting in the importation of 680,000 tonnes annually costing between $300million and $500million.

Contrary to concerns that have been raised over the years by financial institutions of the risks involved in funding agriculture, the DALEX boss said, latest trends and practices have rendered agribusiness financing less risky.

“Now we have farmer groups, off takers, among others. In the past, they didn’t have good seeds, fertilizer, and mechanisation services, and for the north for instance, their farms used to get burnt, they are not able to harvest on time and foods dry up

But once we have a good off taker, he provides them with extension services, provides them fertilizer, gives them mechanisation, and it reduces the risk,” he said.

Chairperson of Shinkaafa Buni and Head, Avnash Industries, Northern Region, Akshay Sharma, who linked the high cost of local rice to that of raw materials noted: “The local paddy (raw material) prices are too expensive, as the yields per acre achieved by the farmers generally in Ghana is as low as 800 Kg/ acre compared to minimum of 2.4 MT / acre internationally in Thailand, Vietnam, India, USA, Pakistan, etc. The local rice price is as a result uncompetitive in comparison with imported rice.”

The DALEX Rice farmer credit program delivers credit to farmers over the innovative Dalex SWIFT mobile platform which operates with the short code: *721#. The SWIFT platform gives subscribers access to investment/savings services.

Farmers who are subscribed unto the programme receive their payments through mobile money and can make deposits into their investment accounts. They have real-time access to their account balances whiles SWIFT provides call centre support in the local dialect-Dagbani.