In remote Agotime, Ghana, ACDI/VOCA is helping farmers and agricultural input providers overcome the barriers that separate them.
Agotime, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, is home to about 150 families growing large areas of maize. Isolated from their neighbors, farmers in Agotime have little knowledge of farming inputs such as agrochemicals and rely on age-old tools such as machetes and hoes to clear their land. These methods are time and labor intensive and often result in delays in implementing critical farming activities.
In the town of Afram Plains, about 50 km away from Agotime, dealers of inputs such as agrochemicals and tools were willing to work with the Agotime farmers. What stopped them, however, was their concern about transaction costs and the risk of using the unreliable transportation system to reach them without a guarantee of acquiring any customers.
There was also a lack of trust: The few Agotime farmers who had used agrochemicals complained that it worked poorly or not at all, either because it had expired or because it contained inappropriate chemicals provided by unscrupulous peddlers.
Trust Strengthens Maize Value Chain
ACDI/VOCA works to address issues like this through the USAID-funded Ghana Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) program, which is increasing competitiveness in Ghana’s domestic, regional and international markets.
At a recent visit to Agotime aimed at educating farmers about the program, the ADVANCE team in the Nkawkaw field office travelled with some input dealers to help them develop strong and profitable linkages with the farmers. The team advised the participating input dealers to develop trusting relationships with known agents and promote input sales within small communities such as Agotime to build their businesses. Trustworthy agents link farmers to legitimate input dealers, who conduct demonstrations to ensure that inputs are used properly, which then leads to continued demand.
Golden Stork, an input dealer, agreed with the ADVANCE team to undertake such promotional and demonstration activities with Agotime and surrounding communities. During the demonstrations, farmers have the opportunity to buy high-quality inputs. The ADVANCE team also encouraged a tractor service provider, ADEMEC, to promote their business by educating farmers on good land preparation for ploughing to reduce frequent breakdowns of tractors and other equipment.
Remarking on the program, the leader of the Agotime Farmers Association, Yaovi Kumah, said, ”We have been deceived by fake agrochemical dealers who come on market days with sensational but often fraudulent messages on these agrochemicals for far too long. These planned demonstrations and promotions, and the authentic input dealers we have made friends with, are surely a dream come true for us.”