On Monday May 3, Agrihouse Foundation held a colourful maiden edition of the Ghana Chicken Festival – a one-day fun-filled family event – in collaboration with the Ghana Poultry Project. The event, which is a practical interventional project, was aimed at promoting the patronage and consumption of locally produced chicken, as well as creating awareness about their nutritional and health benefits.
At the tail-end of the event, drenched in sweat and smiles while making her closing remarks, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, used the opportunity to highlight the importance of teamwork and investing in formidable corporate structures.
She spent a good amount of time expressing her immense gratitude to the Agrihouse team for their hard work and commitment; for continuously standing by her in various capacities, and ensuring that all projects and events implemented by the Foundation consistently sailed through successfully.
Without a doubt her comments were encouraging, but importantly they also threw further light on the need for more agricultural interventional projects – and a resilient agricultural value chain and actors that can push forth the agenda of sustainable agriculture in the country. It is therefore worthy to note that conversations about sustainable and productive agriculture will always come down to the question of ‘how robust and effective is the value chain?’ I strongly believe that the agricultural value chain is not too different from the structures and divisions organizations need in place to ensure growth and productivity in their companies.
The United States Agency for International Development has defined a value chain as the full range of activities that are required to bring a product or service from its conception to its end use, including all the market channels available to all firms.
In the field of agriculture, value chain has been explained as the people and activities that bring basic agricultural products like maize or vegetables or cotton from obtaining inputs and production in the field to the consumer, through stages such as processing, packaging, and distribution.
At Agrihouse Foundation, we take a keen interest in enlightening all our stakeholders; especially agric students, beginner agribusinesses and entrepreneurs, about the agric value chain, what it entails, and how they can make the most of the opportunities – and even seeming challenges within it. We pay particular attention to this area because we realize that is where most of them get it wrong.
Through research, we came to the realization that most of them come to the sector with very limited views; thinking that agriculture is all farming or working in dry, hard fields, having little knowledge about the broad range of subsectors and inbuilt opportunities the value chain plainly offers. Even for those who have aspirations toward agriculture and getting into agribusiness, they have little or no mentoring, training and/or coaching to develop their business plans. A number were engaged in more theoretical learning at their schools instead of practical lessons; therefore, most of them aren’t able to embrace the full meaning of AGRI-CULTURE and AGRI-BUSINESS
These challenges formed the brainpower behind the annual Agricultural Students’ Career Guidance Mentorship Dialogue and Bootcamp (AG-STUD-Africa) the foundation initiated in 2018. The aim is to bring together agricultural students, beginner agribusinesses and start-ups to help them appreciate the pivotal roles they are expected to play within the agricultural value chain in building preparedness toward national food security, through creative and innovative agriculture.
As part of practical teaching and learning at AG-STUD Bootcamp, participants get to understand the dynamics of the agricultural value chain; that it is more than working on an animal or crop production farm (which is not bad at all). The value chain encompasses identifying and executing projects, which we specialize in at Agrihouse Foundation. It also includes communications, transportation and mechanization, monitoring and evaluation, processing, financing, sales and marketing, among others. Thus, at AG-STUD, our students learn that they can work in agriculture, even build illustrious careers in the sector, and not necessarily be on farms, (which we encourage them to do, anyway). However, it is always a joy to see the light of understanding come alive in their eyes when they grasp this knowledge and begin to have a change of mind toward the sector.
A Case Study of Agrihouse Foundation
As indicated above, a robust and effective agric value chain will certainly ensure a sustainable and productive agricultural sector. The same can be said for an organization like Agrihouse that has put in place structures and a formidable team which enables us to rise up to the tasks we have committed ourselves to achieving in the agricultural sector.
For the sake of this article, I will highlight two main events we executed recently at Agrihouse, within a period of three days, to show the value of teamwork and how the full elements/workings of the agricultural value chain come to play whenever we set out to implement one of our interventional projects. However, before I get into the projects, I will use this opportunity to throw light on how our structures and divisions at Agrihouse Foundation similarly embody the agricultural value chain, so readers better understand the different aspects of the agricultural sector as we have it.
The Projects Division: This division pays close attention to the agricultural sector, with the goal of identifying gaps or areas that are in need of attention. It is their responsible to study how these gaps can be bridged to ensure that, ultimately, all areas in the sector are receiving equal attention.
They design a well thought-out practical interventional project around this need or area of lack they identify, and bring it to the rest of the team for further brainstorming and implementation strategy. Largely, the Projects Division has the responsibility of leading the execution of events or projects to a successful end. Projects are very important because they are true reflections of all the areas in the agricultural sector that need attention. Without practical, human-centred interventional projects, a number of socio-economic needs will not be met because they have not been clearly identified and highlighted.
Communications and Media Division: The communications team consists of writers and professional media practitioners who are trained to support the organization disseminate information. They employ tools and mediums such as social media, press releases, news reports and articles, jingles, LPMs, newspapers, television and radio interviews and interactions to execute their responsibilities. They publicize projects or events carried out within the organization before, during and after the event; and share with the public and all stakeholders any needed information. Without the communications and media team, integral details/information about projects and events will not reach its targeted audience, and it will seem like the team is working in a vacuum.
The Creatives and Branding Division: This team is all about bringing the ideas/ intentions of the project or event to life in creative ways which will appeal to the targetted groups and public. They are all about packaging the project and event colourfully, and they usually employ creative tools/mediums such as flyers, graphic designs, t-shirts, billboard adverts, jingles and photography, among others, to display messages about the project. Thus, this team works closely with the projects and communications team to ensure that content displayed on their creations are accurate information.
Sales and Marketing Division: Another integral division of the team that ensures interventional projects and events are pitched correctly to potential stakeholders who can choose to align with the project as partners, sponsors, advertisers or attendees. It is important that they fully understand the intent of the event or project they go out to sell and market, because interested persons or organizations may have questions which need clarification. They must also possess wooing abilities, to be able to convince persons and organizations who may seem uninterested in the project to come on board and show them why the project is beneficial. Without these teams, there would not be funds for executing the project or event; thus, like the rest of the team, they are integral and needed.
Finance Division: They also work closely with the sales and marketing division to take accurate note of all funds coming in from sponsors and partners toward the project or event. This division, in turn, is responsible for disbursing funds for the other division to accomplish their tasks according to their budgets. Furthermore, they also pay for other internal and external costs incurred.
This simple process indicates how important agric-financing is within the agric value chain. Many agricultural projects that do not see implementation is because of lack of financing. In Ghana, our women in the agric sector face a bigger percentage of this challenge – and that is why at Agrihouse Foundation we advocate greatly for agri-women and create platforms to enable them interact with organisations which can provide them with loans, as we put together market accessibility projects on their behalf.
Mechanization and Transportation: This division in the chain strongly resembles the driver’s team in our organization. Without the drivers, we cannot easily move around to accomplish our tasks, because transportation in the agricultural value chain is integral. As a result of poor transportation, farmers in rural settings find it difficult going to their farms; they also face the challenge of poor or no mechanized agriculture; and thus are not able to accomplish tasks on their farms with ease. Furthermore, with the challenge of poor transportation, they are not able to move harvests easily to market centres, a major cause of post-harvest losses.
All these challenges can translate in different ways when it comes to organizational settings. For examples, external meetings can be delayed when there is no transport. This can cause financial losses to the company, and projects can be completely cancelled because the driver or car is not in good shape. All these go a long way to show the importance of all areas in the value chain.
Monitoring and Evaluation Division: This division can easily be compared to processing within the agricultural value chain, because Monitoring and Evaluating ensures that all details about the project or event under execution is precise. Monitoring and Evaluation leaves no room for mistakes. They ensure that all other divisions are crossing their I’s and T’s as they work toward the project or event. The division ensures monitoring and evaluation, before, during and after the project by requesting consistent feedbacks and reports from all internal and external stakeholders. The main goal of the division is that the idea/vision will go through a thorough processing structure, so as to become a great project or event when it is finally executed.
Executing Two Major Projects within 3 days
My hope is that this simple breakdown of the value chain gives you a clearer understanding of how it works, and encourages you to find your place of interest within it so you can also start contributing to agriculture in the best ways you can. That said, with such a formidable team at Agrihouse Foundation it was no surprise when the team came together and pulled off two extraordinary events within three days:
2nd Edition of Agriwoman Market Place
Agrihouse Foundation continues to empower agri-women to know that they are essential and contribute massively to the economy of our country. Thus, for the second time, the AgriWoman Market Place brought together over thirty agriwomen (farmers, processers, packagers, marketers, IT service providers, among others), under a cloud of excitement, to customers who were happy to have affordable fresh produce and agri-products brought to their doorsteps. It was a fun and educational experience for both buyers and sellers, as organizers managed to include activities like agriwomen corporate conversations, egg-race, tug of peace, music and dancing, within the one-day market place event.
As part of the corporate conversation, Ecobank Ghana commended Agrihouse Foundation for organizing a second successful edition. According to the Head of Women’s Desk at Ecobank, Ms. Lorretta Sarpong, the efforts of Agrihouse show consistency and a strong will to empower women farmers as they strive to build their commercial capacity.
She said Ecobank has also recently created a ‘Women’s Desk’ in all of its branches, aimed at making it easy for women farmers to make inquiries and receive advice on how to access loans and other banking facilities the bank has put in place for them.
She said Ecobank, just like Agrihouse Foundation, is committed to empowering women agripreneurs in the country – and therefore urged them to visit any Ecobank branch in the country to make enquiries about facilities the bank has put in place to support them.
The second edition attracted exhibitors from the Volta, Northern, Ashanti, Central, Eastern and Greater Regions. On display were packed locally produced rice, vegetables, shea butter, peanut butter, raw cocoa butter, coconut oil, ginger oil, papaya oil, clove oil, and organic honey and poultry products. Women providing services in Mechanization, Transportation, Digital Marketing, Branding and Communications were also able to highlight their products and services through discussions.
“The overall goal is to support women farmers and agribusinesses to recover fully from the dire effects of COVID-19; gain some stability, increase their income, enhance nutrition of households and support the livelihoods of women farmers,” the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, said in a press release.
Maiden Edition of Ghana Chicken Festival (Gha-Chick)
The Ghana Chicken Festival was held on Monday 3rd May 2021 at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra. The event provided a platform for industry players in the poultry value chain to interact and advocate for more consumption of locally produced chicken, and enhance job opportunities within the Poultry industry. Fun-filled activities included the eat Ghana Chicken Competition, grilled chicken sampling, dancing competition, face-painting and a bouncy castle for kids.
Madam Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, said the poultry sector has many job opportunities for Ghanaians; and asked more local entrepreneurs to venture into the sector to aid expansion and growth.
She said the agricultural sector should be more practical in order to make it more realistic to the ordinary Ghanaian, and that the festival is one passing across that vision.
She said Agrihouse has initiatives of training people who want to venture into the sector, and promote market linkage platforms that help bring farmers and buyers together.
National Coordinator, Eat Ghana Chicken Festival Campaign, Mr. Asiwome Biekro, said Ghana has some local chicken firms which can supply chicken all year round. He therefore called on Ghanaians to patronize more local chickens to support local farmers, which and will ultimately reduce the cost of local chicken.
He stated that the campaign seeks to build the capacity of farmers and will be replicated throughout the country, especially in the three heavy Chicken producing regions: Greater Accra Region, Ashanti Region and Brong Ahafo Region.
The CEO of AMAS Farms, Mr. Augustine Amankwa said: “This Chicken Festival will help us a lot as farmers, especially for broiler processers simply because the competition is great. About 95% of chicken consumed in Ghana is imported, whereas we [Ghanaians] produce only 5.0% – which is very bad. So, we need to participate in certain activities to promote what we produce”.
Media practitioner Mr. Kafui Dey won the cooking competition. In an interview, he noted: “This is the kind of event that will throw more light on the issues. Ghana poultry has been in the news a long time, and it has always had challenges like competition from around the world. But this will actually throw some light on the issues. Also, it is a family event – which promotes networking,” he said.
Other cooking competitors included Mr. Ameyaw Debrah, CEO of ameyawdebrah.com; Mr. Eric Nesta Quarshie, Business Development Manager of OCP Ghana; Mr. Kojo Soboh, CEO of Emy Awards and Carbon AV; Mr. Patrick Opoku Adjei, Head of Agribusiness-Fidelity Bank; Mr. Kingsley Adofo-Addo, Head of SME Banking-Ecobank Ghana; Mr. Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, Executive Director of Kandifo Institute.
The rest are Mr. Lantam Papanko, Journalist and TV Personality GHOne TV; Mr. Joshua Nana Kwame Ayira, Journalist and TV Personality GHOne TV; Mr. William Nettey, Head of Agribusiness at ABSA Bank; Mr. Selom Amevor, Communications Manager of ADB; and Madam Rebecca Aboagye, President of Nyonkodo Farmers Association.