Creating Inclusive and Sustainable Agribusiness Systems Through Alliances for Action
In 2016, International Trade Centre (ITC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the Government of Ghana began working with Ghanaian private sector stakeholders on yam production, processing and commercialization. Thanks to the development of a Strategic Development Roadmap, stakeholders established a value chain-based public-private partnership platform called the Yam Development Council (YDC). YDC monitored the implementation and ensured synergies between value chain operators, development partners and government institutions.
As part of the implementation activities and objectives, producer associations prioritized decent and stable living income opportunities as a means to develop rural areas and facilitate upgrading of value chains and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This priority was shared among yam farmers as well as other commodity-dependant smallholder producer groups in cocoa, cashew, coffee, and fruits and vegetables. It also became evident that in order to guarantee living incomes, the underlying issue was that of resiliency, maximization of upgrading opportunities and mitigation of risks associated with participation in global trade.
In order to achieve this objective in a sustainable and meaningful manner, it was clear that a systems approach was required. The systems approach is based on broad participation and driven by evidence in implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In Ghana, the farmer-led solution to the resiliency and income problem was to target several product-market combinations simultaneously and to diversify incomes. This meant, for instance, combining an approach on cash crops for export with crops more associated with food security and local and regional markets. ITC and YDC implemented the system with high levels of adoption by farmers and corresponding result in improved productivity and incomes. YDC and ITC first translated this system, based on promotion of multiple products and marketing channels to cocoa because of high-income volatility, cash flow and productivity issues. In this regard, diversification with a commercial purpose had significant farmer demand as market fluctuations and seasonality often led to under-investment in cocoa as well as yam and other food crops.
The approach soon evolved into the Alliances for Action Ghana (A4A). A4A is a multi-stakeholder initiative to enable more inclusive and sustainable market systems for agribusiness. It brings together private and public actors with the aim to promote partnerships, invest in income-risk diversification for smallholder farmers and MSMEs, improve commercial linkages and target multiple products and markets. This results in an improved enabling environment and more sustainable and inclusive commercial partnerships between value chain operators. The key requirements of A4A success are investment by the private sector and contributions from all participating stakeholders, including in-kind as well operational costs and support activities. Each Alliance maps the environmental footprint of the selected product-market combinations and promotes climate change mitigation and adaptation, which is also compatible with the income diversification and intercropping models used.
So far in Ghana, 15 lead farmers and 420 second ring farmers have been trained in good agricultural practices in yam, cocoa and associated crops; dynamic agroforestry; accounting; record keeping; and pricing and negotiation skills. Eight MSMEs have been trained in improving processing, efficiency and reducing costs of doing business. Meeting with domestic and international buyers, 200 women increased their agronomic and business skills. The effects have multiplied many times through farming families. Contributions by the private sector as well as government and local actors have exceeded the original project budget. The Alliance has also gone beyond agribusiness. The Ministry of Gender, ITC, YDC and Fairtrade Africa, for instance, developed and co-facilitated trainings on women’s empowerment, group dynamics, gender-based violence and gender equality principles.
The project is now going to scale. Through funding from Denmark, ITC, international cocoa and food industry buyers, and local private sector organizations, the alliances in Ghana will reach 30,000 associated farmers by 2022. Based on the success of Alliances for Action in Ghana and more recently in the Caribbean, the Alliances approach is being mainstreamed throughout ITC’s Inclusive Agribusiness, Value Chain Development and Value Added to Trade programs.
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