If you start looking for things that Denmark and Ghana have in common, you will most definitely come across agriculture. Although Denmark is a small country with a population of 5,8 million, Danish farmers every year produce enough food to feed 15 million people. In Ghana, the agricultural sector is the most important economic sector employing more than half the population and the potential for productivity gains are abundant.
The government of Ghana has initiated a number of initiatives to modernize the agricultural sector. Programmes like Planting for Food and Jobs and 1D1F have been put in place to improve productivity and expand agribusiness in the country, all contributing to the development of an ecosystem of companies, well equipped to engage in both domestic, regional and international trade.
Danish companies, having a long tradition of developing sustainable solutions that improve efficiency and add value to the agricultural sector, are well positioned to collaborate with Ghanaian agro-producers in tackling the challenges facing the sector, and the Danish interest in entering the markets in Ghana and West Africa is increasing.
Combatting food loss – a joint mission
30 to 60 percent of all food produced in Ghana is lost in the post-harvest process before it ever reaches Ghanaian households or the shipping docks. This was one of the conclusions drawn by a recent study tracing back the value chains of the primary fruits and vegetables produced in Ghana. The study was commissioned by the Danish Embassy in Accra in 2019 and carried out by the Ghanaian consulting firm ASNAPP (Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products).
Food loss of this magnitude is a major issue in terms of wasted resources and negative climate impacts, but at every step of the way throughout the value chain, it also presents a business opportunity. Every loss along the chain represents an opportunity for Ghanaian producers to increase earnings based on what has already been produced. Making more from less has for many years been the guiding principle for Danish solution providers. Through a consistent focus on innovation and learning, Denmark has a number of companies, from small to large, that have developed flexible cold chain solutions that help improve the quality of food and avoid losses. In Ghana, the Danish logistics company Maersk already provides end-to-end logistics and cold chain solutions to help combat food loss and the potential for more collaboration in this area is evident.
In 2020, with Covid-19 raging and travel restrictions ongoing, the Embassy of Denmark in Accra and the Danish Agriculture and Food Council (DAFC) carried out a week long “virtual delegation to Ghana”, which attracted seven Danish companies that embarked on an intense series of meetings and online activities with almost 20 Ghanaian partners from relevant authorities to the private sector. Many good relations were established, which have since developed into new partnerships, bringing together Danish solutions with Ghanaian partners looking to optimise productivity.
Digital solutions help farmers increase yields
Partnerships between businesses, government and academic institutions have historically been at the core of Denmark’s efforts to make more out of less through innovation. This spirit of collaboration and knowledge sharing remains dominant today and has made Denmark a global front-runner in creating solutions for the world’s key challenges in food and agriculture.
In Ghana the collaboration between the Danish company Bluetown and the international NGO CARE International is a good example of innovation through partnerships. To help farmers improve yields and income through better farming practices, this collaboration provides access to reliable weather data and information through Wi-Fi and LOCAL CLOUD solutions. Building on each of their strengths, Bluetown provides the technology, while CARE is responsible for outreach and community engagement. This way of working is at the core of Danida’s Market Development Partnerships, which aim to test innovative business models in collaboration between private companies and NGOs.
Danish companies partner with Ghana for job creation and growth
Productivity improvements in the food and agriculture sector has enormous potential to increase growth and employment and combat poverty in Ghana. Advocacy, skills development, access to affordable finance and innovative business models are all key ingredients for a successful and sustainable transformation. Throughout the last decade, Denmark has joined forces with both the Government of Ghana and other partners to spearhead innovative partnerships like the Skills Development Fund and the BUSAC Fund that have both contributed to accelerate market-driven skills development and conducive framework conditions for agricultural development, resulting in significant job creation and productivity gains for the companies involved.
The Danish company AAK – the world’s largest producer of plant oils – sources shea nuts from Ghana using an innovative business model that take into account the local context of their suppliers. Working in the North of Ghana outside Tamale, AAK employs more than 160,000 Ghanaian women, who are organised into women’s groups. AAK provides pre-financing for the women based on their expectations for what they can deliver to the company. This arrangement enables them to plan and pay for schooling for the children, food for the family and make investments towards the future.