The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has hosted a virtual learning events, concluding a seven-year, US$41.6million U.S. government-funded Feed the Future Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE II) activity.
During the event, participants discussed how the ADVANCE II activity aided in addressing and mitigating the stressors placed on the agribusiness sector by the pandemic in Ghana. Participants included the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Regional Coordinating Councils, representatives of the regional outgrower business networks, the National Seed Traders Association of Ghana, the National Board for Small-Scale Industries, the Ghana Commodity Exchange, the Ghana Health Service, development partners and local organisations.
Speaking at the event, USAID/Ghana Deputy Mission Director Janean Davis lauded the ADVANCE II activity for contributing to the productivity and profitability of more than 145,000 smallholder farmers – in partnership with the U.S. private sector, government of Ghana, Ghanaian agribusinesses, financial institutions, and telecommunications companies as well as other development partners.
She noted: “The work completed this past year to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 has been truly remarkable. None of it could have been accomplished if we did not work together toward a common vision: to lift each other up, one person and one village at a time; and in so doing, build a stronger, more self-reliant Ghana”.
In May 2020, the Feed the Future ADVANCE II activity conducted a rapid assessment to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Ghana’s agribusiness sector. Using assessment findings, USAID developed solutions to mitigate pandemic-related supply chain and agribusiness service disruptions. USAID distributed personal protective equipment and hygiene kits to 22,650 farmers and conducted COVID-19 sensitisation campaigns in communities.
And by radio it established a relief grant programme that provided farm inputs such as fertiliser to 1,000 smallholder farmers; promoted and linked farmers to locally-bred seed varieties; restored disrupted ploughing services for smallholder farmers; supported over 80 outgrower businesses in their loan applications to access a portion of the GH¢600million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme-Business Support Scheme fund; and provided mobile phones to 400 women smallholder farmers to increase their access to digital information and strengthen their networks.
The United States continues to lead the global COVID-19 pandemic response. These efforts are made possible through the American people’s generosity. In Ghana, the United States has provided almost US$19million to address immediate impacts of COVID-19 by helping to strengthen health systems and to continue improving reading outcomes.
ADVANCE II is the flagship activity under Feed the Future, a U.S. government initiative to end global hunger. The seven-year US$41.6million project, ADVANCE II, is implemented by international development non-profit organisation ACDI/VOCA in the Northern, North East, Upper East, and Upper West Regions of Ghana.
The project aims to strengthen market systems and build the capacity of outgrower businesses that are commercial farmers, aggregators and traders in providing agribusiness services to smallholder farmers. ADVANCE II also facilitates market linkages between the outgrower business and input suppliers, equipment dealers, financial institutions, processing firms, end buyers and other relevant value chain actors. Since its inception in 2014, the activity has provided critical support to increase the average yields of maize (by 307%), rice (by 114%), and soybean (176%).
The activity also increased the volume of produce sold by 987,322 metric tonnes, resulting in total incremental sales valued at over US$146million. ADVANCE II also helped increase smallholder farmers’ gross margins by 112% (from US$278 to US$589) for maize, 254% (from US$256 to US$906) for rice, and 96% (from US$290 to US$569) for soybean.