Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 July 2021:
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub, has awarded a $1.2 million co-investment grant to Warc Group, a social enterprise with agricultural production and consulting operations in Ghana and Sierra Leone, to help smallholder farmers in Ghana’s Upper West Region.
The company’s subsidiary, Warc Ghana, will use the funding and $5.9 million in leveraged resources and capital to launch the “The New African Farmer: Regenerative Agriculture in Ghana” partnership.
USAID’s partnership with Warc Ghana through the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub will give 20,000 farmers easier access to quality seeds, modern machinery, and training.
Smallholder farmers in Ghana’s Upper West region are the backbone of their communities and have the potential to earn increased incomes while contributing to the country’s economic growth.
Unfortunately, many live in poverty, which is worsened by a lack of quality seeds, modern machinery, and training in good agricultural practices. In addition, these farmers often lack access to markets outside of their communities or the financing needed to secure vital resources.
USAID/Ghana Acting Mission Director Janean Davis notes, “USAID is co-investing in this partnership because it will utilize a proven service delivery unit (SDU) model to shift 20,000 smallholders in Sissala East, Sissala West, and Wa East from subsistence to commercial farming and link them with regional and international markets. Helping to break the poverty cycle in northern Ghana will ensure a more resilient Ghana.”
The SDUs offer smallholder farmers bundled services that include improved maize and soybean seed varieties, fertilizer, crop protection materials and application services, and land preparation services.
The smallholder farmers can choose which type of bundled services to purchase and repay Warc Ghana in cash or in cash-equivalent commodities after the harvest season.
Extensive hands-on training in climate smart agricultural practices and crop yield monitoring is provided for free to all smallholders using the SDUs.
Warc Ghana expects to increase farmers’ yields from 2 to 4 metric tons per hectare for maize and 1.5 to 2.5 metric tons per hectare for soybean through the use of SDUs, training, and additional support.
“The use of SDUs to boost smallholders’ crop yields and their incomes has already proven successful in the Savannah and Bono East regions where we operate, as well as Sierra Leone, where we have supported over 10,000 Sierra Leonean farmers since 2011,” said Cathrin Schriever, Head of Projects with the Warc Group.
“We are confident that this USAID-backed partnership will contribute to agricultural and food security in Ghana’s Upper West Region.”
The partnership will also prove key to strengthening economic growth and trade. It is estimated that by 2024, crops generated by 20,000 participating smallholders will generate $4.76 in annual exports from Ghana. It will also have a strong gender and youth focus: 50 percent of beneficiaries will be women and 50 percent youth. To ensure success, Warc Ghana has established a consortium of partners to offer additional resources and expertise, including Corteva, Tata/John Deere, Valmont, the Soybean Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois, and the Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation at Texas A&M University.
Photo: Warc Ghana’s agronomist, Augustine, inspects the fields of farmers in the Bono East region who have utilized the company’s service delivery units to boost crop yields.
About West Africa Trade & Investment Hub
The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub is a USAIDfunded initiative to co-invest with the private sector to generate new private investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports in West Africa.
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance through an integrated approach to development, advancing accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusivity.
About Warc Group
The Warc Group, parent company of Warc Ghana, is an award-winning social enterprise working to lift subsistence farmers out of poverty through established agricultural production and consulting operations in West Africa. Warc runs three farms, with a combined cultivated area of 5,000 acres, and has served over 10,000 rice, maize, and oil palm smallholder farmers across Ghana and Sierra Leone.
The stories about Ghana’s admirable strides towards progress just keeps on getting better and better; A million thanks to the legendary Pan African leader Kwame Nkrumah for laying a solid foundation for progress made of stone that keeps on getting stronger as the years roll by. Indeed Legends never die. In some places in Ghana it is said that a Rooster of Progress that crowed happily many decades ago when Nkrumah was born can still be heard today by people in some remote villages in the depths of Ghana. It is said that the mysterious rooster can sometimes be heard crying frantically over the loss of Dr Nkrumah for hours and at other times it crows on and on tirelessly with joys because his legacy lives on.
The initiatives of USAID that are directed towards progressive Social enterprise and Agricultural groups like WARC Ghana that has a strong desire to help lift subsistence farmers out of poverty is truly admirable deserving of all the accolades of appreciation and recognition anyone can give. Ladies,Gentlemen of WARC – The Legendary Nkrumah would be proud of your outstanding efforts.
What are the “quality seeds”? I hope not the genetically modified seeds like monsanto bring for small farmers in India about 10 years ago.