Mechanized agriculture is undoubtedly essential, and stakeholders within Ghana’s agric sector are beginning to appreciate and harness the added advantages technology and innovation brings to the sector, in the areas of efficiency and productivity.
Furthermore, mechanized agriculture ensures timeliness of operations, and reduces health hazard due to manual labour drudgery; it supplements human power, saves time and importantly, it is beginning to encourage many young people to take a second look at the agricultural sector for employment and career options.
In this light, the agricultural sector in Ghana is becoming more and more profitable, and YARA Ghana— a foremost stakeholder within the sector is heavily committed to this growth and productivity, in the areas of growing the knowledge of farmers, and supporting the value chain with innovations that can maximize the efforts of value chain actors.
At this year’s 11th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions event, organized by Agrihouse Foundation in Tamale, the West African Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, in a keynote address, reiterated the importance of value-chain partnerships, and called for more collaborations among stakeholders.
“We need to continue driving sustainable farming,” he said, “The world is changing and we need to ensure sustainability in our agricultural sector. It is critical. We need to find partners who think long-term sustainability and no just short-term opportunities to make business,” he stressed.
In an interview conducted ahead of the 3-days event, Mr. Addo-Yobo noted that, because of such value chain partnerships, YARA has therefore become a key player in the agricultural value chain, specifically, in the fertilizer space; providing farmers and other stakeholders with crop nutrition solutions that have over the years, helped farmers increase their yields and profitability.
“We are the pioneers of cocoa fertilizer,” the Director revealed in the interview, “Through extensive research work we did with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, we came out with the household cocoa fertilizer called Asaasewura. The product has seen significant growth among cocoa farmers who have used it and I dare say that, in periods that Ghana has been able deliver one billion tonnes of cocoa production, statistics available show that Asaasewura has played a significant part in the production growth,” he asserted.
He said YARA has also helped to form and create the biggest value chain partnership that Ghana has ever seen; a value chain that has, over the years, grown to involve more than ten thousand farmers.
“Again, what is most critical about this is the value chain partnerships — that is, from input to output to farmers — we have built this to ensure that there is knowledge transfer, improved productivity, and improved business mindset around farming; so that, when the farmers are no longer in that scheme, they are still able to organize themselves with business mindsets that gives that access to finance and market,” he explained.
According to Mr. Addo-Yobo, YARA also thrives in the area of knowledge transfer. “We have been running hundreds of demonstration fields, year on year, across the country and we use that as an opportunity to train and educate farmers on best farming practices,” he elaborated. “We have seen that farmers who have adopted those farming practices have been more profitable and (have) improved their productivity.”
He said Yara’s commitment to high standards is not limited to their products alone; the company also ensures a high standard of Healthy and Safety for their staff, suppliers and customers along the production process, “Yara also has a strong Ethics and Compliance culture underpinned by their commitment to keeping high standards in all they do,” he said.
He stressed, YARA will continue to collaborate with research bodies such as the Crop Research Institute of Ghana and others, to undertake more scientific trials aimed at evolving cost-effective crop nutrition protocols and programmes for Ghanaian farmers, which will contribute significantly to improved yields and profits for the farmer.
YARA Introduces ‘FarmGo’ Weather App
In line with the above commitment, Mr. Addo-Yobo revealed, YARA has invested in FarmerWeather App known as FarmGo, which has been designed to help farmers predict weather conditions accurately; which will also enable them plan their farming activities, to maximize their time to ensure more productivity.
He said, with the FarmWeather APP, farmers would get ahead of the weather by getting free forecasts, “It gives daily, weekly and hourly forecasts to enable farmers plan their farm activities, anywhere they are,” he said. The App, he noted, can be downloaded and used on all smart phones, at the comfort of the farmer.
“When we launched it this year, we were expecting to have about 2,500 downloads to end the year and then build up from there; today we have about 10, 000 farmers that have downloaded the app. We are very encouraged. This is our show of support to our farmers.”
Sustainable Soya beans Production Project
He said YARA has in this year, also launched the ‘Sustainable Soya beans Production in Northern Ghana,’ Project, which underscores the importance of soya production in the Northern region; how it influences food security and the regions poultry sector.
“It is a four year project being supported by NORAD, a Norwegian fund. We expect that in the four years, we will reach at least a 100, 000 soya farmers. It is a value chain approach, so we are working with aggregators, processors, and the poultry industry. Just as we have been able to build the pre-harvest project we Agrihouse, we want to build the project that will create sustainability after the four years,” he said.
The project will address the challenges farmers in the sector are often confronted with including poor agronomic practices, which have negatively affected yields. Mr. Addo-Yobo, therefore, encouraged soya processors and farmers to take advantage of the project. Yara has showed itself as a strong partner of the Annual pre-harvest conference for the past eleven years.
This year, YARA led key Commodity Breakout sessions with rice, maize, yam, soyabean, sorghum, millet, cashew and vegetable farmers. Yara also led practical Training and Capacity Building sessions, whiles sharing success stories on modules and solutions that have worked. Participants improved their knowledge of best crop nutrition solutions and farming practices that will help them increase their yield and maximize high return on investments.
11th Pre-harvest Exhibitions and Conference Activities
The 3-days leading market linkage event opened on Tuesday, October 19th, and run until Thursday, October 21. The edition, which was on theme “Working Together to Improve Market Channels for Agri-foods Beyond the Pandemic,” took place at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium, in Tamale in the Northern region.
The leading agribusiness market linkage conference and exhibitions event, featured major training and capacity session, such as, commodity breakout session, farmer-buyer matchmaking dialogues, showcasing successful agribusiness modules, exhibitions, agri-youth forum, gender workshop, development partner panel conversation, and practical field demonstrations exercises.
The event further highlighted and addressed the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified within the sector, the effects it has posed on marketing Agri-foods, while exploring existing market channels to address these challenges.
A key highlight of the 3-day event was the Field demonstrations, where farmers and actors got to practically learn, appreciate and adopt best practices in Farm Management. This took place at the Agrihouse Foundation AGRI-VILLAGE, a Ten (10) acre land, donated by the Bamvim Lana (Chief of Bamvim.
In the short to long term, the Agrihouse Foundation Agri-village is expected to house different type of 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.
Impacts of Pre-harvest Over the Years
Pre-harvest has created and continues to connect, through exhibitions, and training sessions, companies that are into fertilizers, seeds, Irrigation, machinery and equipment, Finance, Transportation, ICT, Processors, Packagers, Marketers, Government Institutions, Development Partners, among others. Over 90% of companies and participants have been linked to markets through the Exhibitions.
Pre-harvest has become a leading event on the Ghanaian agricultural calendar and has served as a stimulating platform for training, and for creating increased stakeholder linkages, exhibitions and expanded opportunities. It operates from a facilitative dimension by presenting a highly engaging and coordinated platform that ensures that smallholder farmers are connected to markets, finance, inputs, equipment, and information.
These activities are geared towards capturing the marketing challenges faced by the actors especially in the pandemic and how other modernized marketing platforms can serve as a solution to maximize the output of the actors along the value chain. Farmers, actors along the value chain and participants will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to observe Good Agricultural Practices.
This year’s 3-days event (2021 11th edition) recorded 118 Exhibitors including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others. It made room for 3200 Participants; 32 FBO’s from different regions and districts who represented over 300, 000 farmers of rice, maize, soyabeans, sorghum, millet, groundnut, vegetables, yam and tubers, etc. A total of 46 buyers negotiated and signed deals with farmers.
In 2020, (10th edition) the event recorded a total of 3,122 participants and 122 exhibitors including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others.
Report on the 2019 event showed that about 70 business deals were made during the Exhibition. More than GHS232, 420, 745 of agri products and equipment were sold and bought. The event has improved the livelihoods of the players along the value chain by boosting their confidence i.e. created a stimulus platform for collaborating with other actors for business deals/increased stakeholders linkages.
It has given agro-processors a strong drive to access their raw materials locally, agribusiness development, grown the local economy through the expansion of agribusiness opportunities and has become a platform of growth for agribusiness entrepreneurs. The event will remain one of the leading events in the country, where farmers, businesses, government and ideas meet to network, build capacity, learn and explore business opportunities, sign deals and close contracts.
In 2018, the event won the Agribusiness event of the Year, for helping to promotes business partnerships among value chain actors, especially farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, equipment dealers, financial institutions, telecom companies and policy makers. Over the years, through continuous improvement, it has accelerated the transformation of agribusiness in Northern Ghana, alongside Government’s initiatives.