The success of agriculture is often attributed to the efforts of government policies and other interventions which are intermittently rolled-out.
In Ghana, history is strewn with numerous interventions that have at one stage or another been considered potent enough to help propel the agric sector’s growth. In keeping with this trend, the current administration has initiated the much-publicised ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ which appears to be yielding positive fruits since its inception.
While government’s role is too crucial to be missed by anyone taking the slightest peek at the agric sector, the contribution of other stakeholders, particularly corporate Ghana, is colossal to say the least.
Indigenous Ghanaian companies and others with foreign roots have through various interventions made significant contributions which have both complemented government’s effort and improved the lot of agric in the country.
One of such shining examples is Kosmos Energy Ghana. The oil and gas giant has – through its ‘Kosmos Innovation Centre’ initiative – given a new lease of life to agriculture. Having conceived the idea as a means of contributing to the growth of society, the company has since 2016 nurtured and funded the establishment of several enterprises, while several other startups have benefitted greatly from the ‘Kosmos Incubation Programme’.
Business booster module
The business booster module was birthed in 2017 to aid the growth of innovative SMEs and help propel such enterprises to greater heights. The module was designed to engage indigenous agricultural enterprises that had been in business for no less than three years.
The programme involves mentoring support, a boot-camp and exposure to other seasoned businesses which have the capacity and willingness to lend a hand of support in the form of funding and expert advice. Having initially selected nine businesses out of a pool of 170 applicants, the beneficiary set-ups were taken through a one-on-one capacity building period that helped beneficiaries appreciate the need to identify and surmount challenges in the business sphere.
Following a liberal feedback of positive words on the programme’s impact, the maiden edition came to an end in April 2018 – with a promise to start another session soon.
Beneficiary businesses which participated in the Business Booster module included:
- Tilly farm – produces and processes pork and related products for a wide variety of clients across the country
- Solution Oasis – produces and markets quality natural skin-care products for the Ghanaian beauty and cosmetic market
- Contrapac – extracts natural virgin oil from tropical vegetables
- GEES Fresh Point – guinea fowl processing company
- Moringa connect – processes moringa leaves into delicious beverages
- Moringa king – beverage processing and marketing entity
- Meannan Foods – produces and packages food
- Seidag – supplier of beef products
The Kosmos Innovation Centre has a commitment to innovative agriculture – and has demonstrated this by mentoring and supporting business that have been built to provide simple yet innovative solutions for the local agric sector. The company believes the future of agriculture is in technology and has therefore taken a keen interest in young start-ups that believe in the potential of using technology to rapidly advance agriculture. Consequently, the company has extended generous support to agric-inclined businesses like Agrocentre, Agroseal, Rent-a-Farm, Trotro Tractor etc.
Among the milestones achieved by the Kosmos Innovation Centre is the successful funding and mentorship of inspiring indigenous businesses which went on to win the AgriTech Challenge in 2016 and 2017.
Refreshingly, these companies are now budding entities that are making inroads in the Ghanaian business space.
Profile of some KIC beneficiary businesses
Ghalani is a business enterprise that comprises a farm and supply chain management services. With innovative farm management software that aids agriculture aggregators who are always challenged by the need to engage numerous farmers at the same time, the service easily guarantees productivity and mitigates risk. Currently, the firm is in advanced interactions with the German Development Agency to partner their efforts at achieving its core mandate of optimum farmer performance.
AgroInnova is a web-based management system designed to help poultry enterprises record and keep tabs on operations to ensure optimum performance and guarantee productivity. The company’s chief product ‘AKOKOTAKRA’, is gaining increased prominence among poultry farmers – who claim that the software’s ability to provide accurate and real-time information enhances their operations significantly.
With an egg distribution system that is set to connect distributors to retailers, the company appears to be inching closer to becoming an indispensable service provider for the countries teeming poultry-farming community.
Trotro Tractor Limited
This excitingly innovative business has developed an electronic platform that uses mobile phones and GPS to connect farmers to tractor operators – two essential agric partners who hitherto had challenges accessing each other. The service has come as a relief to both parties as it allows request placement, appointment scheduling and pay-before-service tractor operations.
Having received commendation and reviews from several quarters for its business direction, the company has recently been considered by the Alliance for a New Revolution in Africa (AGRA) under the financial inclusion for Small-holder farmers in Africa project (FISFAR), to help roll-out smallholder agricultural mechanisation in the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana.
Despite only recently being established, Totro Tractor has engaged about 17,000 farmers; with 3,700 of that number actively benefitting from the service of 300 tractor operators who are signed onto the service.
Another innovative venture from the stables of KIC, this business is woven around the use of RFID technology to assess the well-being or otherwise of individual livestock. Also, a second aspect of the company’s service, known as Animartt, is designed to bring sellers and buyers of livestock to a single and secure online trading platform for the purposes of transacting business seamlessly.
The company has received positive reviews since preliminary trials began, and industry observers are full of expectation for the company’s potential to become a solid partner for livestock farmers in the country.
Built with the mandate to provide farmers with real-time updates on happenings in and around their farms, Complete Farmer enjoys the funding of Premium Bank Ghana.
With an effectual surveillance update on farms, the services provided by this firm have been touted by many as a huge incentive for white collar employees in other sectors who have a desire to engage in some agric venture alongside their full-time employment.
This business relies on a mobile validation mechanism to help farmers and consumers identify genuine farm inputs and quality food produce, thereby shutting the door on fake and substandard products.
Through this quality control system, the loss of US$1.5trillion usually recorded as a result of the proliferation of fake agricultural inputs is slowly but surely inching closer to becoming a thing of the past. The company has recorded significant successes since its inception by recording 523 successful certifications of field-work in collaboration with farmers and retailers. The company is also said to be in talks with sustainable partners, including the Westerwelle Foundation and Suhum Farmers Association. A recent grant of US$$5,000 from the Tony Enemelu Foundation is a testament to both the company’s attractiveness and relevance.
Indeed, the responsibility to make our agric sector great is a collective one that should be shared by government and thriving firms in the country. The monumental significance of agriculture and the chief role it plays in keeping our economy alight and alive means every effort geared toward improving agriculture must be a concern for all.
The local economy is akin to a boat with government and private sector players aboard – it is the collective responsibility of both to pedal this boat towards prosperity-and agric presents a huge opportunity to massively pedal a ‘boat’ that is bound to generously reward government and private sector alike should both show commensurate commitment through deepened support for agriculture.
About the Writer:
Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa is the Lead Consultant at Agrihouse Communications, the premier data-driven agro Public Relations, Media Relations and Events Management firm. She is also the Founder of Agrihouse Foundation, a non-governmental capacity building organisation, with a special focus on agro-based youth mentorship and leadership grooming, agribusiness development through the organisation of exhibitions, training programmes, research, agri-trade relations and promotions.