Benedicta Addie, a 50-year-old pepper farmer and member of the Kuyiyem Farmers Group Association (KFGA) no longer needs to travel two hours to Paga or Navorong in the Upper East Region to buy agro-inputs for her three-acre farm. Like other members of her group, the hassle involved in engaging the services of tractor operators to plough her land has been considerably reduced. The association has established a partnership with service providers which makes it easy to engage their services.
All these became possible after the Empowering Agribusinesses Actors Business Development Services (BDS) training sponsored by the BUSAC Fund. The leadership and members of the association have been empowered to work with stakeholders to create a strong and effective value chain for the sector. The Fund, with financial support from its development partners DANIDA and USAID, engaged the services of consultants to build the capacity of members of the association to engage with stakeholders.
For members of KFGA in the Upper East Region who produce vegetables like pepper and tomatoes during the dry season, a value chain did not exist. They had limited access to productive resources such as land, credit, sustainable farming practices, access to markets, labour and technology to deal with the adverse effect of climate change. This contributed to low yields, post-harvest losses and ultimately affected their subsistence.
Previously, farmers used to harvest pepper in a manner that ultimately damaged the crop. At the BUSAC Fund BDS training, the farmers learned to harvest by gently cutting the pedicel with a knife instead of uprooting it forcefully. This saves the flowers from dropping, does not weaken the plant, and reduces bruising to the plant, which leads to decaying.
Today, Benedicta no longer records losses in yields; “At the end of the season, I harvested 35 (90kg) bags from my two-acre farm,” she noted.
James Wepina, Chairman of KFGA, says the BUSAC Fund sponsored training triggered the transformation in the way they do business. “We have begun to dialogue with market queens from Accra to review pricing and the discussion has so far been fruitful. We are working on an agreed scale so farmers do not feel cheated. Before the training all these negotiations were not in existence,” he stated.
He observed that the development in the sector has also attracted more farmers to the association. Membership has increased from 25 to 50. To further create value for the group, members have begun a savings and loans scheme to support members in times of need.
Aside from the improvement in livelihoods of the farmers, the chairman also noted that the step taken by KFGA with the support of BUSAC Fund has also curbed rural-urban migration in the community. Previously, due to the decline in crop yields during the main farming season, young people and women were forced to migrate to the South in search of greener pastures. However, support from the BUSAC Fund has changed the trend. “The youth and women see that farming has become lucrative again. Half of our new members are all returnees who were convinced by their colleagues to return to farming” he said.