Gov’t urged to create market access fund for smallholder farmers

BY BUSINESS 24 - Oct 18, 2020 at 3:35am 100

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The Engagement Manager at the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), George Boateng, has called on government to fashion out a deliberate policy aimed at assisting smallholder farmers to access markets or export channels in the agricultural value chain.

According to him, the policy could be the creation of a dedicated fund to improve agricultural markets for smallholder farmers.

Speaking at a virtual validation workshop on ACET’s Market Linkages Study, he called for a form of hybrid processing of agricultural produce involving smallholder farmers.

“On the field, we realized that farmers sometimes undertake some home processing to increase the prices of their produce. Farmers always want to upgrade; they have this idea that they can add something to their produce to make more money—and the more you try to do a little processing; you get more money.

“With this model, we are not expecting the farmers to be processors, but rather there should be some form of processing that the farmer can do. They are already doing it; it can be upgraded where other firms and SMEs could come in and they will pick this bulk processed product and go and add further value to it and raise the standard of it. By doing this, they can supply to export markets or supermarkets; that is the form of hybrid processing [we’re proposing],” he said.

Additionally, he said that innovative business models can help rural-based artisanal processors, which tend to be owned by women farmers, become suppliers of supermarkets.

For instance, he explained, an artisanal processor would source raw materials and supply bulk products to an SME, which would concentrate on product development by way of packaging and marketing to supply to supermarkets.

Other policies geared at improving market access for smallholders that were proposed at the workshop include facilitation of contractual relationships through contract design, awareness creation and education on the ethics of contracting, as well as the promotion of demand-driven research and development (R&D) and innovation.

The head of programmes and advocacy of the Peasant Farmers Association (PFA), Charles Nyaaba, also urged the government to address market challenges in rural areas.

ACET’s Market Linkages Study is a project to analyse food systems and market challenges and weaknesses, and to propose recommendations for improving agricultural markets.

The study identified challenges smallholder farmers face in accessing markets and identified innovations being deployed to improve farmers’ access to markets.

The final report of the study is expected to be completed and launched next year.

U.S. launches university partnerships initiative with two inaugural projects at KNUST

The U.S. Embassy in Accra and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) formally launched the U.S. State Department Bureau of African Affairs’ University Partnerships Initiative (UPI) at an in-person and virtual launch ceremony on the KNUST campus on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.

The event was presided over by Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, PhD, Vice-Chancellor of KNUST. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor Nagy, attended the event virtually from Washington, DC and delivered remarks.

U.S. Embassy officials attended the event at KNUST and virtually from Accra to support the launch of the UPI which seeks to strengthen existing ties and foster new collaboration between U.S. and African universities through faculty and student exchanges, joint research, administrative capacity-building and public-private partnerships.

Representatives from the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) and Iowa State University (ISU) also participated in the virtual launch, with each institution providing an overview of the projects they are undertaking at KNUST.

TIEC, in collaboration with the KNUST Business School, is implementing “Flexible Learning: Responding and Reimagining Education in Ghana.”

In response to the urgent need for virtual education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TIEC staff has assembled higher education professionals from several universities in Texas to train 30 administrators and faculty to produce quality online and flexible learning.

Participants will go on to train other faculty and administrators within KNUST and throughout Ghana. Please visit www.tiec.org/university-partnerships for more information on TIEC’s university partnerships.

ISU is partnering with the KNUST College of Engineering to implement “Institutional Capacity Building through Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Collaboration.” ISU and KNUST faculty and students will partner with the Ullo Traditional Area in the Upper West Region to collaborate on small-scale community development.

These projects will promote research-driven solutions to address food security, potable water security, sustainable agriculture, and improved economic opportunity. This ‘learning by doing’ approach will bolster the students’ real-world problem-solving abilities and globalize the undergraduate engineering curriculum at both universities. For more information on this project, please visit the EWB chapter at ISU: www.ewb.stuorg.iastate.edu.

In her welcome remarks, Professor Dickson noted that the TIEC-KNUST project “propels us in our pursuit of building the needed capacity for the establishment of a more resilient and robust e-learning system that ensures seamless academic work all year round and also offer us the opportunity to transfer knowledge to individuals less privileged to access in-person learning experience from our University.”

The Vice-Chancellor also endorsed the ISU-KNUST project, saying it “will strengthen our institutional capacity towards achieving our mission as it will position KNUST in an era where academic-community engagement for the socio-economic development of our less privileged communities is paramount.”

Assistant Secretary Nagy applauded the inaugural UPI collaborations in Ghana, stating, “these projects exemplify core principles in American higher education leadership: excellence and innovation in the delivery of online education (now of paramount importance as schools rely largely on virtual learning), and hands-on, practical education that when put into action, improves lives.”

Through the UPI, the U.S. Embassy will continue to expand existing links and promote new partnerships at the university level that will strengthen Ghana’s educational institutions as instruments of national development – enhancing the United States and Ghana’s shared goals of regional prosperity, security, and stability.