USAID MFA COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund – a boon to female youth farmers in Upper West

Kenkeni Ibrahim on her Santijan maize farm

Provision of inputs credit and mechanisation services by a nucleus farmer to smallholder farmers is a game-changing intervention for young and female farmers in the Upper West Region to expand crops production to enhance food security and improved income.

A 22-year-old SMA, Kenkeni Ibrahim, a smallholder farmer at Santijan in the Sissala East Municipality of Upper West Region, is a beneficiary of the intervention.

Young Kenkeni received a parcel of land from her husband in 2021 to start her own farm, a move that made her elated.

Like most women in her community, up until then, Kenkeni had supported her husband and family through farming and by providing paid labour to commercial farmers.

Kenkeni looked forward to the opportunity to grow her own maize and groundnut to support her family and earn some well-deserved personal income.

Her excitement was short-lived; however, when she realised that she needed not only land, but also financing to pay for seed, fertiliser and tractor plowing services to boost her farm’s yield.

“I was discouraged because I expected all the time and energy I had devoted to nurturing the crops would produce good yields and increase my income,” Kenkeni said.

Kenkeni Ibrahim tends her groundnut farm

Things for Kenkeni began to turn around in the 2022 production season when she was among the 2,138 smallholder farmers in northern Ghana able to access credit from Akandem Farms, a grantee of the USAID-funded Feed the Future Ghana Mobilizing Finance in Agriculture (MFA) Activity’s COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund.

The credit enabled the farmers, including women and youths, to acquire improved seeds, fertiliser and mechanised plowing and planting services to increase their maize, groundnut and soybean yields and to repay the credit with their crops.

They also received training in good agricultural practices, weed and pest control, post-harvest management and climate-smart agriculture.

For Kenkeni, timely tractor plowing and planting services, along with 49 kilograms of certified maize seeds, 50 kilograms of certified groundnut seeds and 10 bags of fertiliser from Akandem Farms allowed her to nearly double her yield and up her cultivation of maize from three to five acres, in addition to two acres of groundnut.

“Support from Akandem came at the right time. Living in a remote community like Santijan, I never imagined that I could achieve such success,” Kenkeni reflects.  “In 2024, I look forward to cultivating 15 acres!”

Akandem Farms’ Managing Director, Maxwell Akandem, says the USAID MFA COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund provided a lifeline to smallholder farmers, resuscitating agribusinesses, including his own, following the pandemic.

“The financial and technical support received from USAID-funded MFA enabled Akandem Farms to bring hope to over 2,000 smallholder farmers. Without it, they would still be struggling due to the pandemic,” he adds.

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