Over the past decade, several exciting international development initiatives have been implemented in Ghana aiming to spur the growth of the agricultural sector. Some of these development projects/programmes are still on-going under new implementation phases and with different implementing firms. Examples of these interventions include:
¬ Market Oriented Agriculture Programme [MOAP (I, II, and III)]
¬ Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement [ADVANCE (I, II)]
¬ Millennium Development Authority Commercial Development of Farmer Organisations Project [MIDA -CDFO]
¬ Integrated Agricultural Productivity Improvement and Marketing Project [INTAPIMP]
¬ Northern Rural Growth Programme [NRGP]
¬ West African Agricultural Productivity Programme [WAAPP I, II]
¬ Ghana Commercial Agriculture Programme [GCAP]
¬ Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme [GASIP]
¬ Green Innovation Centre (GIC) Project
¬ Outgrower and Value Chain Fund [OVCF (I, II,and III)]
¬ Ghana Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Project [AgNRM]
¬ ADRA Ghana Projects
Some of these projects have the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and sometimes the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) as the implementing agencies in partnership with a Project Coordination Unit (PCU). Some have international consulting firms executing the project with staffing sourced from the fund’s originating country and engaged local experts.
Majority of these projects/programmes tend to come from existing country donor partners and Embassies such as
The Netherlands Government
Danish International Development Agency [DANIDA]
United States Agency for International Development [USAID]
Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA]
Korea International Cooperation Agency
Agence France de developpement [AFD-France]
Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
German Development Cooperation [GIZ-KfW]
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD]
African Development Bank [AfDB]
Project deliverables: Minimal impact
Unfortunately, over the years we have not been impressed with the deliverables of some of these agricultural projects. Sadly, project reports and impact metrics churn out tend to differ from on-the-ground realities. The key project beneficiaries/constituents for majority of these development programmes are rural and peri-urban smallholder farmers with a very strong focus in the Northern Region, Upper East Region, Upper West Region, Brong Ahafo Region, Central Region, and (northern part) of Volta Region of Ghana. However, these smallholder food producers barely gain from these interventions resulting in project recycling and replications from multiple agencies.
Broadly, key objectives of these projects tend to revolve around helping improve market access linkages for farm produce; increasing crop farm yield outputs; expanding access to inclusive financing and credit; boosting revenue and incomes of rural farmers with recurrent effect on their households and local communities.
Poor procurement policies
Some of the agricultural development interventions in Ghana tend to shroud their procurement activities in secrecy thus denying very capable local experts and companies opportunities to bid for contracting opportunities. Procurement initiatives spearheaded by officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture tend to be executed internally, with occasional engagement of private sector firms mostly through sole-sourced approaches who may not necessarily demonstrate experience and service delivery expertise. This has affected the delivery of otherwise very exciting initiatives. Examples: Development of Ghana’s e-agriculture platforms and development of Farmer-Based Organisation (FBO) portal.
Marginal impact on farmers’ operations
It is interesting to note that very marginal change has come to the lives and operations of rural farmers and several intended last mile actors from various agricultural development projects in Ghana. Farmers ( including fishers and pastoralists) continue to hustle with decade-old issues such as limited access to improved supply markets, unavailable access to credit or bank financing, and limited storage/warehouse facilities. Thanks to open data policies, we are pretty familiar with the budgetary allocations of majority of these agricultural development projects in Ghana and we know greater allocations are expected to go into delivering key project activities.
It is our expectations that greater attention is given to market-oriented programmatic activities, agricultural extension and market-driven value chain development and the engagement of competent specialised media professionals to conduct in-depth project Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL).
Experts should be engaged on a competitive basis to implement projects with measurable Terms of Engagement and specific deliverable timelines.
Officials and experts from MoFA on secondment to various agricultural development programmes should voice out and criticise projects with lofty project objectives that do not necessarily propel the growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector or which do not fall in line with Ghana’s agriculture policy frameworks.
Media Engagement Budget
Periodic media reportage of on-going agricultural development projects should be made to enable the public keep track of these initiatives. Journalists should not be merely invited to report on project launch and grant close events. We should be partners in all phases of project delivery to provide unbiased and open-minded reporting. The media is also best placed to build project institutional memory and also provide critical inputs to help scale such interventions.
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