Agro-Source in Ghana: Promoting Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Women and Youth through Strong Private Sector Partnerships
Even though small-scale producers contribute significantly to Ghana’s food bank and economy, they are often unable to access quality inputs. Even when they can access inputs, they lack the know-how and expertise on how to use these inputs effectively. CARE’s Agro-Source program in the Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana aimed to improve agricultural productivity through increased availability, access and use of good quality agricultural inputs for 30,000 women small-scale producers, their families, and their communities.
Goal and Approaches
The Agro-Source Project aimed to improve the productivity of 30,000 small-scale women producers in Northern Ghana through increased availability, access and use of high-quality agricultural inputs by 2020. It promoted entrepreneurial opportunities for women and youth through strong partnerships with the private sector. Agro-Source promoted agro-input dealerships, utilization of agro-inputs, engaged small-scale women producers as seed growers, and improved gender responsiveness.
The AgroSource project was designed to build on existing work done by CARE’s Pathways project, which ran from 2011 to 2018, in establishing a private sector-led agro-dealership scheme. The overall objective of the AgroSource project contributes to CARE Ghana’s Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) and the Social and Economic Empowerment (SEE) programming priorities by promoting equitable access to key agricultural inputs for smallholder women and new entrepreneurial prospects for women and youth in strong partnership with the private sector.
The AgroSource project in Ghana was a 3-year project aimed to support smallholder women farmers to:
- Increase availability and access to good quality agricultural inputs in rural communities by 50% through a private sector-led agro-dealership scheme that will establish and support 50 women and men rural agro-dealers by the year 2020;
- Increase availability of and access to certified seed through a community seed production system in partnership with the private sector, which will engage 200 smallholder women, farmers, as out-growers;
- Improve utilization of good quality agricultural inputs by enhancing knowledge of smallholder farmers through input fairs, demonstration plots and trainings; and
- Create an enabling environment for women in agri-input systems by improving the gender responsiveness of both private and government sector partners.
AgroSource, in its three years of implementation, made available 64,174 kg of good quality improved certified seeds of sorghum, rice, soybean, cowpea, and groundnut to the smallholder farmers through the community seed out-grower approach in partnership with private seed companies. There is good evidence from the endline survey that this initiative contributed immensely to improving the availability, access and utilization of improved seeds in the project regions.
Increased engagement with government, private sector players and institutional partners at the district level helped to create market-enhancing mechanisms for sustaining key outcomes and expanding systemic change.
Mavis is among the 24 seed out-growers participatory selected to be trained, registered, and certified as seed producers. When certified, these individuals will work with a cluster of out-growers as cluster leads. Mavis operates as an out-grower with a private seed company, and as a certified seed producer, she will receive and also be able to seek direct services and support from key stakeholders in the seed value chain, including Ghana Seed Inspection Division. She will have more seed off-takers or buyers to be able to sell to or work with, gain access to foundation seeds (planting material required for the production of certified seeds) directly from the research institutions and Ghana Seed Inspection Division (GSID), and not depend on seed producers which sometimes leads to delayed supply and planting. As a registered seed producer, she can become a member of the Seed Producers Association of Ghana (SPAG) and National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) and continue to receive general seed information, business, and technical capacity building and serve as an advocate on issues related to smallholder women farmers.
Mavis and fellow seed producers on a field visit to a farm.
Three years after introducing the initiative in the target project districts, CARE and its implementing partners have remarkably achieved most of the objectives of this highly striving project, including the following change levers:
Increasing availability and access to good quality agricultural inputs in rural communities by 50% through a private sector-led agro-dealership scheme;
Increasing the availability of certified seed through a community seed production system in partnership with the private sector that engaged 200 smallholder women, farmers as out-growers;
Improving the utilization of good quality agricultural inputs by enhancing knowledge of smallholder farmers through input fairs, demonstration plots and trainings; and
Creating an enabling environment for women in Agri-input systems through improving gender responsiveness of both private and government sector partners.