Learning Note 1: Assumptions for Targeted Constituents

It is a truism that most agricultural development projects in Ghana seem to undertake their projects with less inclusion of their targets. Nothwithstanding their well drafted project foci which aim at bottom-up participatory approaches, most do otherwise during implementation.
At Syecomp Ltd, we are striving not to go in same fashion. Our unique position as a private sector agricultural service provider in Geospatial Survey and Mapping thus puts us in a good  stead to focus on long term viable approaches in order to sustain the business.
With generous financial support from CTA through the Building Viable Delivery Model (BVDM) for ICT4Ag project, we organized a stakeholder consultative meeting in collaboration with the Volta Value Chain Cooperative Union (VVCCU) and Apex Farmer Associations for session of farmer leaders, institutional partners, agri-input dealers and other stakeholders. The workshop held in Ho, the Volta Regional Capital enabled us obtain salient feedback on relevant agro-climatic messages they (farmer clients) are interested in and the channels they would prefer for the information to be disseminated to them.
Such fruitful discourse is giving us an opportunity to garner interest and farmer buy-in to our service, and expand our reach to more farmers in Ghana.
Getting stakeholders on board with regards service provision is a good strategy to business success for Agribusiness Service Providers.
This is the first part of a 9-series Learning Note being made public with regards to the Geospatial Technology and Agroclimatic Information Service for Farmers in Ghana.
Solomon Elorm Allavi
Project Lead
Email: sallavi@syecomp.com
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CTA Awards Grant to Ghanaian Geospatial Mapping Company

SBS-satellite info service-Ghana

SBS-satellite info service-Ghana

Syecomp Business Services Ltd, a private-sector provider of Agricultural Research and Geospatial Survey and Mapping company in Ghana has been awarded a grant by The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to develop a proof of concept and explore viable business models for the adoption of Geospatial Technology (GIS/Global Positioning Systems), dissemination of agro-climatic information and mFarm actor-chain interactions in Ghana.

This is a unique service of its kind in Ghana exploring twin approaches of learning and scaling-up where smallholder (and commercial) farmers will receive and also request for scientific information on weather, soil and crop-related conditions of their farms.

“The use of quantitative, geospatial data obtained from farmlands and its effective transformation into qualitative information understandable by farmers is a unique game-changer to challenges faced by farmers in Ghana with regards to plant growth, field moisture, yield determination and mineral deposits”, said Solomon Elorm Allavi, the company’s Chief Operations Manager.

The negative impact of climate change, water scarcity and food security on the productivity of smallholder and commercial farmers in Ghana need to be addressed through innovative scientific approaches. Even in seasons of abundant water, knowledge on appropriate use is very limited. The use of satellite and remote sensing data to assist farmers in their decision-making is thus essential for improved productivity, high yields and improvement in their economic livelihoods.

Robust delivery channels will be deployed to provide  agro-climatic knowledge and link  multiple actors along and across the agricultural value chain for an improved and sustainable market access and food security.

Further  information on the Building Viable Delivery Models for ICT4Ag by CTA can be found here.

For discussions with Syecomp Ltd, contact:

Edem Patience Pomary-Alifo (HR/Communications Manager)

Email: epomary@syecomp.com / sallavi@syecomp.com

Phone: +233 20 1442191

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CTA announces grants to five institutions to facilitate the scaling up of ICT solutions in ACP countries

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) this week announced five grants totalling 400,000 EUR (536,040 USD) to five institutions in Africa and the European Union to support the adoption, uptake and scaling of information and communication technologies (ICTs) support for agriculture.

This comes as a follow-up to the ICT4Ag International Conference organised by CTA and its partners in Kigali, Rwanda, in November 2013. Even though the conference confirmed the huge potential of the new technologies to support agriculture, it also revealed a number of issues hampering their use, including the incoherence in the development process for ICT4Ag applications and the challenge for service providers to go beyond the pilot stage without donor support.

The five winning initiatives will be deployed in Antigua, Belize, Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean); Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali (West Africa); and South Sudan (East Africa) to support agricultural policy processes, agricultural extension and advisory services, fisheries value chain, and market information services.

The winning organizations are:
eLEAF Competence Centre, a Netherlands-based high-tech company that uses reliable, quantitative data on water and vegetation coverage to support sustainable water use, increase food production and provide environmental protection systems, will be scaling up its satellite-based information services at the Gezira Irrigation Dam in South Sudan to provide targeted delivery of extension services to farmers.

RONGEAD, a France-based international network system made up of NGOs, technical specialists, international institutions and businesses that provides market information services, will use the grant to improve its current initiative and scale it up through market analysis, training and capacity building, provision of information and advice and delivery of a business intelligence service to improve the competitiveness, profitability and ability of smallholder farmers to manage business risks in food chains in West Africa.

Syecomp Business Services, a private-sector provider of geographic information system (GIS) services based in Ghana, will use its grant to develop a proof of concept and explore business models for the adoption of geospatial technology (GIS/global positioning system applications), dissemination of agro climatic information and mFarm actor-chain interactions in Ghana.

The University of West Indies, a public-sector research institute located in Trinidad and Tobago, will use its grant to extend and scale up an existing suite of web and mobile applications (mFisheries) for small-scale fisheries. It will also explore a novel co-management delivery model for ICTs amongst various agents in the small scale fisheries ecosystem in the Caribbean.

Yam Pukri, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Burkina Faso, will use the grant to improve the monitoring and implementation of agricultural policies using ICTs, thereby empowering smallholder farmers to contribute to the agricultural and rural development policy processes.

The five grants were awarded following a rigorous competitive process that involved more than 30 high-quality proposals addressing various informational issues along agricultural value chains.

Announcing the grants this week, the manager of CTA’s programme on Policies, Markets and ICTs, Mr Lamon Rutten, stated that this is the beginning of a new journey to ensure ICT solutions benefit smallholder farmers across African, Caribbean and Pacific nations. He noted that these five grants are a pilot to explore the various models of information exchange with the users, learn from them and support good practices for sustainability.

CTA awards these grants as part of its new initiative, ‘Building viable delivery models of ICT4Ag,’ that aims to ensure that smallholder farmers benefit from the digital revolution. A series of activities has been lined up as part of this initiative, including: identifying and collating information on existing ICT solutions through an Apps4Ag database; mapping solutions along an agricultural value chain model to facilitate their retrieval and inform strategies for developing new apps; developing a framework for assessing the usability and functionality of the apps; pilot-testing the framework on selected apps in selected geographic regions and building a Community of Practice (CoP) around the Apps4Ag; and using the results and lessons learned through these pilots to support the roll-out of viable delivery models that ensure up-scaling of ICT4Ag initiatives.

Click here for details on the CTA grants

News Source-CTA: http://cta.int/en/article/2014-08-27/cta-announces-grants-to-five-institutions-to-facilitate-the-scaling-up-of-ict-solutions-in-acp-count.html

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Innovations for Poverty Action ( IPA) Launched Agricultural Development Project in Northern Ghana

A research and non-profit making organisation, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), has launched its two agricultural projects in northern Ghana. The projects dubbed: Examining Underinvestment in Agriculture (EUI) and Disseminating Innovative Resources and Technologies to Smallholders (DIRTS) are aimed at conducting research and supporting farmers to secure insurance for their farming activities.
According to IPA’s report on the research conducted on the first project, Examining Underinvestment in Agriculture (EUI) from 2009 to 2012, based on a 1, 406 households in 84 communities of the Northern Region of Ghana, to evaluate agricultural productivity; technology adoption, the result shows that risk more than capital and other constraint creates barriers to agricultural investment by small holding farmers, hence, the poor agricultural productivity.The study hypothesis, evaluated by IPA; increased access to capital and increased access to risk mitigation strategies (uptake of rainfall insurance), showed that farmers insurance uptake increases investment, but not necessarily profits, the demand for agricultural insurance is highly sensitive to price and that other factors including trust and social networks influence the demand for insurance.

The Disseminating Innovative Resources and Technologies to Smallholders (DIRTS), which started in 2013, is expected to end in 2016. DIRT will cover 162 Communities, 3,240 households and 12 districts in the Northern Region. The districts included; Central Gonja, Sagnarigu, Karaga, Mion, Saboba and Savelugu. The rest are Gushegu, Tolon, Kumbungu, Yendi, Zabzugu and Tatale.
The study is also to address under-investment in agriculture and low productivity through technology and risk-mitigation. According to the Deputy Country Director of the IPA, Madeleen Husselman, the projects are to boost farmers’ production in their catchment areas.
She noted that, farmers have always been producing on the low, due to lack of insurance and courage to take up risk for their farms. She also pointed out that, Community Extensions Agents (CEA) are being trained to use smart phones to receive messages in rural communities which aid farmers in their year round farming activities.
Madeleen Husselman stated that insurance allows smallholder farmers to increase farm investment when matched with complementary extension services and input technology access. Highlighting that such investment will improve per-acre production and profitability of their farming.

IPA had partnered with State institutions like Ghana Agricultural Insurers Pool (GAIP), Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), in the course of these research.

Credit: Developmentnewsafrica.com

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African Economic Conference 2014

Knowledge and Innovation for Africa’s Transformation

01 NOVEMBER 2014 TO 03 NOVEMBER 2014
Abidjan

The ninth edition of the African Economic Conference (AEC 2014) will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 1-3 November on the theme, “Knowledge and Innovation for Africa’s Transformation”.

This year’s conference will offer a unique avenue for researchers, policymakers and development practitioners from Africa, and elsewhere, to debate Africa’s soft infrastructure needs and their catalytic impact on speed and scope of economic transformation and inclusive growth. In the light of Africa’s search for economic transformation and its current skills and technology deficit in the face of knowledge-intensive and innovation-driven global competition, Africa needs to urgently devise strategies to capitalize on its youth bulge to drive technological innovation, skills development and the search for new sources of comparative advantage.

The conference will reflect on the critical barriers to be overcome and seek to capture the lessons to be learnt from various experiences on the continent to guide the development of appropriate policy responses and investment frameworks (public and private). In addition, critical regional dimensions will be examined.

AEC is an annual conference targeted at researchers. It is organized jointly by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Program.

Objectives:

The key objectives of the African Economic Conference series are to:

- promote knowledge management as an important driver of policy dialogue, good policy planning and implementation;

- foster dialogue that promotes the exchange of ideas and innovative thinking among researchers, development practitioners and African policymakers;

- encourage and enhance research on economic and policy issues related to the development of African economies;

- provide an opportunity for young African researchers, Africans in the Diaspora, regional and sub-regional organizations to disseminate their research findings as well as share information with African policymakers on the work they do in the region

- AEC 2014 will explore Africa’s existing skills, technology and innovation capacities against the needs required to realise Africa’s transformation agenda and debate practical policies and strategies that can rapidly eliminate existing deficits and grow capacities across all sectors of the economy. The Conference will comprise a number of plenary and break-out sessions that will feature presentations and discussions by prominent academics, policy makers, business actors and opinion leaders, as well as representatives from development partner organisations.

Call for Papers: Click here for the Call for Papers

Past African Economic Conference: http://www.uneca.org/

Credit: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( UNECA)

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Vegetable Sector in Ghana Receive Investment

GhanaVeg, an initiative supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana, has presented a grant of GHC 200, 000 each to two entrepreneurs to finance their business plans.

The beneficiaries are Catherine Krobo-Edusei of Eden Tree Limited and Tikola, an agent of East-West Seeds.

The grant will support Mrs. Krobo-Edusei of Eden Tree to work together with 120 farmers who are suppliers of vegetables to her company. Eden Tree will enter into contractual arrangements with the farmers who will receive assistance in terms of quality seeds, agronomic training and certification.

Tikola, through the fund, will expand its reach to 50 well-trained agro-dealers in the major vegetable producing regions.

It will also develop 19 demonstration sites and reach more than 4,000 farmers with superior vegetable seeds. The targeted farmers are expected to increase their productivity by 30 to 40 percent.

The Netherlands Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms. Lilianne Ploumen, congratulated winners of the GhanaVeg Business Opportunity Fund.

She said the initiative fits well within the new Dutch policy of trade and aid, using innovative approaches in reducing food insecurity by engaging the private sector.

She said a conducive environment should be created for business and private sector development. This, she said, will be one of the surest ways of solving youth unemployment and food insecurity problems for a sustainable growth.

She said the Netherlands is gradually reducing its aid to Ghana and refocusing its efforts on building and strengthening trade relations and private sector initiatives.

“The agriculture sector, and in particular the vegetable sector, is an exemplary sector where Ghana and the Netherlands have much to offer to each other.

“The Netherlands is in the top-three of the world’s biggest exporters and Ghana has a huge potential for delivering top-quality vegetables to both the domestic and international market,” she said.?

It is reckoned that the potential value for export-vegetables in Ghana is estimated at US$250 million, as the sector is growing at more than 10 percent per year.

Currently, the country exports 15,000 tonnes of vegetables annually and imports US$85million worth of onions.

Credit: B&FT Ghana

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Sale of fake agrochemicals booms at Kejetia-CropLife Ghana

farm The Kejetia terminal and its surroundings in Kumasi have been identified as the hub of the sale of counterfeit agrochemical products in the country.

The resultant effects of the nefarious activities of these unscrupulous businessmen are untold hardship to farmers due to low harvest and possible health hazards to consumers of such farm produce.

The practice also put the lives of farmers and other workers involved in the value chain process in danger as they come into contact with these fake chemicals since they may not have all the necessary information on the precautionary measures to take.

The fake chemicals also cause irreparable damage to the soil as some of the ingredients may be detrimental to the environment.

These counterfeiters have been able to succeed due to the low literacy rate among the farmers, who are unable to detect the differences thus making it easier for the dealers in these fake agrochemical products to succeed in their trade.

Confirmation

The Ashanti Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Kwaku Minta Fordjor, who confirmed this to the Daily Graphic, explained that Kumasi was becoming the hub for this illegal activity due to its central location, as it was easier to connect to other regions from Kejetia.

Earlier, Mr Frederick Brandford Boampong, the Programme Manager for Crop Life Ghana, a non-governmental organisation had indicated at a day’s anti-counterfeiting workshop for stakeholders in the agrochemical industry that some of the counterfeiters had perfected the act such that some of the fake products could escape the scrutiny of trained professionals.

Mr Boampong advised dealers in agrochemical products and inputs to always deal with registered companies that have registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and cautioned farmers to always ensure that all the products they brought were approved by the EPA.

Credit: GraphicOnline Gh

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Ghanaian Company to launch Satellite Information Service for Farmers

SBS-satellite info service-Ghana

Syecomp Ltd: Agro-Climatic Information Service-Ghana

Syecomp Business Services Ltd, a leading Ghanaian geospatial survey and mapping company will be launching a service to provide meteorological information services on agriculture for smallholder and commercial farmers in Ghana.

This is the first service of its kind in Ghana where farmers will receive and also request for scientific information on weather, soil and crop-related conditions of their farms. “The use of quantitative, geospatial data obtained from farmlands and its effective transformation into qualitative information understandable by farmers is a unique game-changer to challenges faced by farmers in Ghana with regards to plant growth, field moisture, yield determination and mineral deposits”, said Mr. Solomon Elorm Allavi, the company’s Chief Operations Manager.

The negative impact of climate change, water scarcity and food security on the productivity of smallholder and commercial farmers in Ghana needs to be addressed through innovative scientific approaches. Even in seasons of abundant water, knowledge on appropriate use is very limited. The use of satellite and remote sensing data to assist farmers in their decision-making is thus essential for improved productivity, high yields and improvement in their economic livelihoods.

This technology will be powered via an interactive web platform and information disseminated through voice, SMS, and in print based on request from farmers and other actors in agriculture.

For enquiries:
Phone: +233 20 144 2191
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Enactus Kenya and Syngenta launch youth Agribusiness and Communication Competition in Africa

Syngenta Foundation and Enactus Kenya have partnered to launch an African Agribusiness Competition for young people.
The Africa Agribusiness Competition targets youth aged 18 – 30 years and has two parts: an essay (or Business Idea Competition) and video clips (or Agribusiness Messaging Competition). The contest is aimed at promoting new business opportunities in crop value chains in Africa; raise awareness of opportunities in agriculture; identify wealth creation activities among communities in Africa and make agriculture “cool” for the youth.
Kindly visit: http://www.agribiz4africa.com/ for submission form and further details on the contest.

Competition deadline: June 10, 2014

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Agriculture providing jobs for the youth in Ghana

Youth in GhanaThe World Bank has estimated that Africa has more than 50% of the world’s fertile and unused land and agriculture accounts for the 25% of the continent’s GDP. A development in the agricultural sector would lead to a sustained economic growth in the whole continent and every country would benefit from it.

In Ghana, agriculture is the most important economic sector employing more than half of the population. Checking on local free online classified websites, you could see a section dedicated to job vacancies and other job opportunities, but the unemployment rate is still very high. Even though the economy in Ghana, like in the rest of the continent, has been growing sustainably in the last years, fighting poverty and decreasing the youth unemployment rate is still a big issue for this country that could be solved simply investing more into agriculture, adding more value to this sector and making it more appealing to young people. In fact, agriculture could really absorb millions of young people looking for a job and focusing on this sector could really help the country enhancing productivity, reducing food prices and its need for imported goods.

In order to do so, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Ghana has developed the so-called Youth in Agriculture Program together with the National Youth Employment Program, an agency created in 2006 to motivate and empower young people to be an active part in the social and economic growth of their country. The Youth in Agriculture program has been introduced to facilitate food and nutrition security and sustainability in agriculture production, but also to change the preconception that agriculture is just for unskilled and uneducated people, making them aware that today it is a commercial activity that requires innovation and energy and that can create job opportunities in research, environment and also engineering. Young men and women interested in the program get the chance to run their own farm and fisheries or take care of the production of livestock and poultry choosing to use modern technology with the help of the government that will assist them and provide them with the land and equipment for the benefits of a whole country.

Author: Angy Knowles

My name is Angy, I am a freelance editor and I’m currently writing for Ghanaian and international blogs and websites writing articles on various topics such as sports, technology, fashion, beauty, career and employment. My hobbies and interests are reading, travelling and sports. Actually I study jounalism at university. A job I would like to do in the future would be to work as a foreign correspondent journalist as I love travelling and learning about other cultures . My hobbies are also photography and art.

My passion for writing has followed me throughout decades and is for me the most important thing in my life.

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