Robust Grant Program Also Supports Agricultural Insurance and Tracking Tools

The USAID-funded Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement II (ADVANCE II) project supports its participants with equipment grants to facilitate the production and post-harvest handling activities of maize, rice, and soybean smallholder farmers.

The past quarter has been busy for the project’s Grants unit: It has awarded over 330 pieces of equipment to project participants in Ghana’s three northern regions. Many of these awards were tarpaulins needed to decrease post-harvest loss. The project also distributed heavy-duty equipment, such as disc ploughs, bullock ploughs, donkey carts, and climate-smart power tillers.

The largest portion of the matching grants went toward the 20 tractors that the project awarded. In the Northern Region, the project assisted ten farmers purchase tractors, while in both the Upper West and the Upper East regions, five farmers benefited per region. In addition to the equipment needed to prepare land for the growing season, ADVANCE II distributed16 motorbikes and 20 tricycles to ensure that Outgrower Businesses (OBs) have the ability to reach and monitor the outgrower farmers they assist. Overall, 260 smallholder farmers in northern Ghana have benefited from grants awarded between March and July 2016.

Women’s group leader Madam Victoria Asaaro from the Upper East Region is a grant recipient. She shares:

“Through the ADVANCE grant, our group got four plows and four donkey carts. Getting this equipment helped members plough their fields on time. We were also able to generate income through plowing for other smallholder farmers. This year we earned about GHS4,000 and used part to pay our 30 percent leverage to acquire a tricycle. We will use the tricycle to transport produce for farmers and charge them, also providing us extra income. Thank you to ADVANCE for this support.”

The grants not only directly assist farmers but also enable other programs that will support project participants in multifaceted ways. Working with the USAID-funded financing project FinGAP, ADVANCE is strengthening the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP) through a matching grant. This service buys down the risks involved in farming. With GAIP, farmers can risk more by growing more and better cope with the devastation that may come in times of drought or poor weather. This insurance scheme is transitioning from being a grant-based project into a long-term, sustainable program. ADVANCE II has also supported the Ghana Grains Council to financially support improvements to the grains value chain by strengthening linkages and managing warehouses to improve efficiency and competitiveness.

Moving forward, the grants unit will focus on climate-smart agriculture tools and equipment that enhance an OB’s ability to monitor and record information about their outgrowers. This process will be scaled up as the harvest season arrives to ensure that farmers follow enhanced practices and that they carefully track yields and costs.