Pre-Harvest 2019: GNAFF says farmers increasingly challenged

There is no doubt that Agriculture is the principal industry driving the local economy. Despite a snail-paced progression in recent years, it still remains the foundation on which the country’s economy rests after showing a resilience that other industries could never have managed.

The forgoing not only shows how important agric is to Ghana; it gives a clear indication of the need to consistently ensure that the sector grows through collective stakeholder support.

This and many allied issues were echoed by The Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen (GNAFF) on the occasion of the 9th Annual Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibition held between 25th – 27th September 2019 in Tamale.

Delivering a passionate message on behalf of the association, Mr. Haruna Mohammed Mburidiba shared thought-provoking perspectives on issues, beginning with the need for increased stakeholder support and innovation.

He began: “Agriculture plays a major role in the survival of Ghana’s economy; it is against this backdrop that Agrihouse Foundation has thought it wise to organise this event to create opportunity for farmers, input dealers, NGOs, Stakeholders and service providers to interact and share ideas concerning agriculture.

“Last year, a similar event was organised by the same organisation. After the event, Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen (GNAFF) recorded a lot of praise from farmers to the Agrihouse Foundation.

“I want to urge government and donor agencies to continue their support with Agrihouse Foundation to keep this alive. I also want to inform farmers that they would do well to put themselves into groups, as that will help them get support from government and other interested organisations. I again want to officially inform colleagues that GNAFF is the best and only constitutionally-mandated farmer Association in Ghana, since it has been organised by article 261 – so any farmer who is a member of GNAFF is in the safety net.”

He revealed that the Northern Regional arm of the Association was hugely challenged and called on stakeholders, particularly government, to show increased support for farmers.

“Farmers in the Northern part of Ghana are facing a lot of challenges. The challenges include difficult access to tractor services, poor road networks, high cost of farm inputs, difficulty in accessing subsidised fertilisers, and lack of market for their farm produce. Climate change is also a natural challenge in the Northern part of Ghana, and this is even worse. We are appealing for government to use its interventions – such as One Village, One Dam/One District, One Factory – to help remedy some of the above-mentioned challenges.

“As a Social Science student I understand government to be described as a system, and I know that every system consists of two environments – External and Internal environment; and any time either environment fails to operate, it affects the smooth operation of the whole system.

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“On that, I want to suggest to both internal and external donors who have an interest in Agriculture to support government in being enabled to realise its dream in the field of Agriculture,” he ended appealingly.

Background

The Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition is deliberately designed to coincide with the pre-harvest period, when farmers and other value chain actors are readying for the dynamics of the harvest season.

The platform presents a unique opportunity for stakeholders, as it helps them to identify and take advantage of the stream of prospects offered by the local agricultural sector.

Just like last year, the event took a three-day dimension – with organisers structuring the event to reflect in-depth insights; actionable and practical tools of engagement models; and methods and mechanisms for improved productivity by industry firms. Led by experienced resource persons, participants savoured riveting seminar sessions which had been deliberately structured to improve knowledge and stimulate a collective vision for a better agricultural sector.

The event drew key actors in the various sectors of the agricultural value chain – such as farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, equipment dealers, and financial institutions and policymakers among others – to interact and share knowledge.

Similarly, government officials, international donor organisations, and the Diplomatic Community among others took advantage of the event to promote knowledge-exchange and incite a renewed drive for exploring practical ways through which the sector can become more attractive and profitable for industry players.

Event Basis

The Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference is an interventional medium that offers practical prospects for value chain actors to meet and discuss business/contracts, and work together as a coherent team to ensure that enough produce is available locally for consumption; thereby mitigating the risks associated with excessive importation. The annual agric showpiece is made up of farmers, public and private sector business officials, and other stakeholders who collectively share an innate desire to see an improved agricultural sector for Ghana.

The event also provides participants a platform where diverse services linked to the agric sector such as seed production, fertiliser, finance, fisheries, storage, machinery, livestock, packaging & processing, and ICT among others can be assessed.

Partakers of the event equally benefitted from applied and engaging sessions designed to encourage deeper insights into best practices and how to take the most of the prevalent opportunities in the agric sector for progress and increase.

This year, the event recorded an impressive turnout of 2,937 participants and 150 exhibitors – including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others; and subsequently clinched the Agribusiness Event of the Year award.

Organisers hold that the showpiece will ultimately help address and find lasting solutions to a myriad of challenges confronting the industry today, by assisting farmers and agri-businesses to expand their businesses before and after harvest, and create an enabling environment for new partnerships to promote the growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector.

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Introduced in October 2010 at Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana by the USAID ADVANCE, the Annual Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference event allows for further growth, sustainability and expansion. The USAID ADVANCE project has partnered with and subsequently handed over organisation of the Pre-Harvest event to Agrihouse Foundation.

Event Structure

For optimum impact, organisers designed event sessions to give participants in-depth insights into the state of the industry today and opportunities that lie ahead. Commodity Break-out sessions, Intensive and focused Training Programmes, Farmer to Buyer Dialogue, Development Partner Forums are some of the sessions designed for the benefit of participants.

In the same vein, Panel Education sessions revolve around pertinent topics like Climate-smart agricultural approach and practices; Achieving an Innovative integrated food security & nutrition result; Market accessibility pathways; Production, process and export impact on Rural development and Food security.

Training Sessions designed to improve the capacity of participants for improved productivity included Warehousing and Storage technologies for post-harvest losses; Basic-to-advanced Financial Literacy education for Farmer Groups; Improving high and quality yields through appropriate production practices; Branding for Marketing Commercial Impact; Going digital to promote and grow your market; Developing a Business plan; and Negotiation Skills.

Other pertinent topics addressed included: What will Ghana’s Agric Sector look like in 2023? What collective role can stakeholders play to change the face of the Agricultural sector, with a focus on input, production, processing, finance, branding, packaging and market accessibility? Together, what can government and corporate organizations do to give support and bridge the gaps in pricing and access? How are structured and competitive government projects, subsidies and initiatives impacting on the markets and accessibility? What Technological Innovations in Agriculture can attract the modern youth? How do we breed the next generation of Agricultural Entrepreneurs etc.?

There was also a Business-to-Business Matchmaking session, Educational Field Trips, Policy Dialogue: Fertiliser subsidy policy boost / Update on Export for rural development and Exhibitions.

The 9th Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference was organised by Agrihouse Foundation –  a non-governmental agricultural social impact, capacity building, innovation and project management organisation with a special focus on changing the perception of, and consciously shaping the conversation on agriculture through the promotion of people-impact initiatives and programmes for students, women, farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and the entirety of actors within the value chain.

The 9th Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions was collectively sponsored by UKaid, The MADE Programme, Yara Ghana, Ecobank, Kosmos Energy, GCX, and Chemico Ltd. – with partnership support from the Northern Regional Coordinating Council, Northern Development Authority and Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

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