A Ghanaian company, Prep-eez Limited, one of the leading value- added service providers to the agricultural sector supply chain across West Africa, has commenced a new scheme, called Field Technology and Commercial Support Services for Farmer Income Improvement.The scheme is being executed in collaboration with the MasterCard Foundation, which is a Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the world’s biggest issuer of globally accepted electronic payment cards.
The innovative scheme seeks to unlock the full potential and capacity of small scale cocoa farmers in both Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire by maximizing their land utilization under cultivation, their range of produce, their yields per acre and their access to both financing and markets for their produce. This involves interventions all along the agricultural production and supply chains.
The multi-faceted new scheme will diversify the produce of beneficiary farmers, cover a significant proportion of their labour costs, provide them with agricultural insurance, guarantee bank loan financing and offer them a ready, cash market for their produce.
Currently, the scheme is at the pilot stage, with about 12,000 smallholder cocoa farmers in the Eastern and upper Central Regions currently enjoying the immense benefits accruable to the beneficiaries.
Firstly, the scheme enables beneficiary farmers to increase and diversify their incomes by facilitating their engagement in boundary cropping of a variety of crops such as grain of paradise (alligator pepper), plantain, and cocoyam on their existing cocoa farms using the land at the farm borders. The commencement of poultry farming is also facilitated under the program which provides beneficiaries with 20 birds for a start. In addition, they are
provided with weather resistant seedlings for their ongoing cocoa production which significantly increases their yield of that crop.
Beneficiary farmers also enjoy mechanized field support services, including free inputs. Hired labour is significantly reduced as half of the costs involved are borne under the scheme pending when produce is actually sold and revenues are realized.
The farms are profiled and used to secure farm owners with Multi-Peril Agricultural Insurance, the premiums of which are paid by the scheme, which in turn is used to secure loan finance for the farmers from partnering banks, the loans themselves being guaranteed by the scheme’s promoters.
Finally, the scheme secures buyers for the resultant farm produce at competitive prices.
Any small scale cocoa farmer with a minimum of three acres of farm land is eligible to benefit from the scheme.
In exchange for all this support, the scheme’s owners are given 50% equity in the new acreage cultivated through boundary cropping.
After the pilot stage, the scheme will be scaled up to other cocoa producing parts of Ghana and to Cote d’ Ivoire. Indeed Prep-eez already has offices in Ghana’s western neighbor, and logistical operations have actually commenced. Full operations are scheduled to begin there by the end of the first quarter of 2017. Eventually, the scheme will be extended to other countries in the sub region including Nigeria.
Several banks and the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool are partners of the scheme.
The scheme is not only significantly increasing and diversifying farmers’ incomes in line with increased production; it is also generating veritable employment across rural Ghana, where it is needed the most. Already, the scheme has employed some 40 agents who oversee the requisite technical support and each has employed a minimum of 10 people to execute their mandate.
Prep-eez is the leading privately-owned provider of value added support for farmers in West Africa, facilitating e-Agriculture across the sub region, in collaboration with the World Bank and various governments and stakeholder institutions. It is a major facilitator of the West African Agricultural Productivity Program, WAAPP.
Source: Economic Times| Ghana