For a productive and sustainable agric value chain to exist, there is need for a well-structured and integrated market system to be in place, which allows all integral units of the value chain to complement and feed into one another.
What then is a market system? A marketing system is a network of individuals, groups, and/or entities linked directly or indirectly through sequential or shared participation in economic exchange that creates, assembles, transforms and makes available assortments of products, both tangible and intangible, provided in response. The system can also be explained as a network of buyers, sellers and other actors who come together to trade in a given product or service. Participants in a market system include direct market players such as producers, buyers and consumers who drive economic activity in the market.
It is important to highlight that the market system is designed as the most effective tool to match sellers and buyers, and revolve around the type of goods or services that are exchanged; the type of participants involved in the exchange, and the rules surrounding the exchange of these goods or services. The importance of market systems is found in the democracy they bring to economies due to how they form according to the majority of participants’ needs. This democracy lays the foundation for innovation and advancement with respect to development and raising individuals’ standard of living. Market systems create a space for wealth to be created and theoretically distributed according to each participant’s input.
Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference as a market system
For the past twelve years, the Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions has served as a market system that allows agric stakeholders in the country and beyond to come together to network, exhibit and sell products and services, and add to their knowledge through practical demonstration exercises and capacity-building sessions.
The three-day event has, over the years, grown to become the leading market linkage platform in the country, and continues to live up to it overall goal of creating markets and linking farmers to buyers. Annually, the event brings together small-scale and commercial farmers, wholesale buyers and investors, development partners, and policy makers to engage in networking and dialogues integral for the development of the agric sector.
The event also hosts agribusinesses in the areas of ICT, aggregation, input dealership, equipment and machinery dealership, transporters, financial institutions, telecommunication companies, out-growers, civil society, and processors. The goal and objectives are the same: to create a market system that allows for exhibitions, training and capacity-building sessions, practical demonstrations, farmer-to-buyer dialogues and networking that establish business relationships. Through monitoring and evaluation, it is estimated that over US$5billion of businesses have been generated over the past event years.
Direct activities from Pre-Harvest, over the years [2017-2021], have resulted in an increase in productivity of between 25 percent to 75 percent among maize and soybean farmers who adopted improved agronomic techniques. Farmer-based organisations have been linked to aggregators and WFP-assisted industrial agro-processors who have purchased 14,000 MT of soybean and 31,000 MT of maize from the farmers. The event has become a leading facilitator in the area of finance, fertiliser, seed, production, machinery, climate-smart agriculture, and technology for agricultural organisations.
For instance, a report on the 2019 event showed that about 70 business deals were made during the exhibition. More than GH¢32, 420,745 worth of agro goods were sold and bought.
For the past 11 years, the event has also brought together over 100,000 value chain actors and stakeholders. Last year, over 3000 stakeholders participated in all the 3-day sessions, and survey conducted indicated a high interest in participation for this year and subsequent years due to the relevance of the sessions and activities.
Exhibitions: In 2021, Pre-Harvest recorded over 118 exhibitors. Sectors that participated in the Exhibitions included farmer groups, input and seed dealers, agric marketing experts, financial institutions, brand specialists, policy-makers and influencers, transporters, equipment and machinery companies, marketers, processing and packaging companies, development partners, donor agencies, corporate institutions, aggregators, buyers, civil society, key government ministries and agencies, industry and business leaders, etc. This year, we are expecting a 45 percent increase in exhibitor participation
Farmer-to-buyer matchmaking: Over the years, the highlight of the Pre-Harvest event has been on the farmer-buyer matchmaking event. Farmer groups promote and negotiate for pricing with buyers, and sign contracts for produce supply. Last year, 53 contracts, valued at US$189,000, was signed through this session. Some of the farmer groups who participated in this session included Gushegu OB Network, Tamale OB Network, Beinmoni Outgrower Business (OB) NETWORK, Jirapa OB Network, Sissala Area OB Network, Nawuni OB Network, etc. The session connected buyers and aggregators to farmers who produce rice, maize, millet, sorghum, soyabeans, groundnut, yam and tubers, among others. We are expecting a 65 percent increase in farmer groups and buyer participation.
Training & capacity-building sessions: In sizable groups that enable easy interaction and flow of information, the farmers are taken through topics that increase their knowledge and skills as farmers. Annually, organisations including ADB, YARA, OCP AFRICA and UFCL have led training and capacity-building discussions on topics such as Planning your financial future, Self-presentation and positive mental health; Providing finance to meet the needs of farmers, and Going digital – success factors of connecting foreign companies with local agribusiness firms. Others include, appropriate fertiliser application methods for maximum yield, developing a personal brand, creating a niche within the agribusiness, and steps to becoming a sustainable farmer.
Field and technical demonstrations: The 10-acre agri-village, in 2021, played host to a series of technical training and demonstration sessions for approximately 726 FBO leaders, farm associations, and out-growers of rice, soybean, sorghum, maize and vegetables. Companies who participated in the sessions with the farmers included GIZ, Demeter, UCFL, TECAS, Farmmore Company Ltd. /N-Drip Irrigation. Again, this year, it is expected that companies leading various training sessions will set up mini-demonstration fields for a more engaging practical session. In the short to long term, the agri-village is expected to house different types of demonstration farms (including seeds and livestock farms), demonstration centres, conference/workshop halls, restrooms, exhibition stores for agric companies, training and recreational centres, storage space, processing centres, production room, laboratories and research centres.
Farmer-to-Farmer Apprenticeship Programme: This new addition will give young farmers and young people who want to get into the agric sector an opportunity to interact and learn from experts. The Farmer-to-Farmer Apprenticeship Programme has been designed as a special aspect of the field demonstration sessions to make room for the young apprentices and corporate representatives who will be at the event to learn by overserving, asking questions and participating in one-on-one practical exercises with experts who cut across the various units of the agric value chain. Young famers and individuals interested in machinery and transportation, as well as agri-porcessing are encouraged to take advantage of this new addition that is expected to enable participants build up their capacity and add to their skills.
The 12th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions
This year’s three-day event is on the theme: ‘Connecting the Unconnected; the Farmer, the Market and the Buyer’. The event is scheduled to take place in the Northern Region from Tuesday, October 25 to Thursday, October 27, 2022.
This year’s Pre-Harvest focus is mainly on improving the market linkages and working with partners to identify gaps, and equally agree on a working path to connect and further strengthen business relationships between actors. Of key priority is developing a technical path where practical sessions and demonstrations will further educate and connect our farmers to companies who’s products and services can support in improving productivity, farm business speed and expansion, while ensuring food and nutrition security.
By this, we are focused on achieving the following after the 3-day interventional programme: link actors along the value chain and expose them to markets; link farmers to buyers and vice versa, especially the unconnected; build upon and strengthen existing market linkages, create market for agriculture-related SMEs; equip farmers and actors with modern good agricultural practices (GAP) to maintain and increase their level of productivity; and introduce farmers and actors to improved or new technologies through the technical field demonstrations
Why you should participate in the Pre-Harvest event
The annual event ensures that participants obtain the knowledge to new, structured and sustainable ways of marketing products and services. Participants are able to meet, interact and sign business deals with over 1000 farmers or actors that suit their businesses, while exhibiting their product or services to a wider audience from all the sectors of agribusiness.
Furthermore, the event creates opportunities for participants to interact with over 100 exhibitors to strike business deals of interest, and become updated on national policies and opportunities for all agricultural actors and what holds for the future. Participants also get the opportunity to be in open, informal sessions that allow them to interact with other farmers and agri-processors to network and engage with no speakers or panelists – just an informal interactive discussion.
Participants get an opportunity to interact and hear from agri-experts who provide the solutions to challenges, and the opportunities in the sector. They partake in interactive keynote sessions designed to highlight issues, progress and development happening in the agricultural sector.
Even more, participants obtain practical and realistic experiences through real life case studies, while the field demonstrations also help participants to understand and appreciate modern and effective technologies for agricultural productivity.
The event also create a platform for participants to meet key decision-makers to network and dialogue; obtain self-empowerment lectures that can motivate them to continue growing their agribusinesses, and improve their livelihoods.