The Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project was re-designed in 2011 to comply with USAID’s new Feed the Future (FTF) strategy. The goal of ADVANCE was to facilitate a transformation of Northern Ghana’s agricultural sector in maize, rice, and soybean to achieve a greater degree of food security among the rural population in the north while increasing competitiveness in the domestic markets. ADVANCE contributed directly to achieving FTF’s objectives of reducing poverty and hunger through inclusive agricultural growth and improved nutrition.
The program adopted a value chain approach where smallholder farmers were linked to markets, finance, inputs, equipment, and information through larger commercial farmers and traders who had the capacity to invest in these chains. The program built upon the ability of smallholder farmers to increase the efficiency of their farm businesses with improved production and post-harvest handling practices. The practices included improved seed varieties, access to quality inputs, mechanization, and market access.
A total of 34,121 farmers benefitted directly from interventions that included training on agricultural productivity and business development, linkages to input suppliers, land preparation service providers, and sources of credit. They were mostly smallholder farmer producers of maize, rice, and soybean. Of these farmers, 47 percent were smallholders affiliated with 312 Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs), most of which are linked to markets through nucleus farmers. Forty-five percent of the farmers were women who received new skills and knowledge in production technologies as well as management practices to operate in a more professional manner.
Through these initiatives, ADVANCE achieved the following:
- Supported 77 input service providers to improve their businesses by using information and communication technology (ICT) for effective message delivery to farmers, aggregators, and industrial buyers. The primary focus of using ICT for outreach was to significantly lower the costs of delivering information, reducing risks from investment and facilitating electronic payments to minimize delays.
- About 127 producer, trade, and business associations and 17 radio stations benefitted by either receiving or providing services or being linked to supply chains.
- Provided technical and financial support to Ghana Grains Council to establish a grain warehouse receipt system in Ghana.
- More than 320 crop demonstration sites were set up to show farmers how to achieve higher productivity through good agricultural and post-harvest handling practices. As a result, 28,808 smallholders adopted new technologies and/or new management practices.
- Farmers benefited from significantly increased gross margins per hectare of each of the commodities and higher yields. Maize increased from $313 to $529 and 1.6 mt to 2.9 mt. Rice increased from $64 to $562 and 0.8 mt to 1.6 mt. Soybean increased from $220 to $1,175 and 1.4 mt to 4.3 mt.
- The project supported 22,761 value chain actors to access services that improved their businesses.
- The project supported 822 micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises to improve their business services, including 122 aggregators/buyers, 12 processors, 77 input dealers, 255 mechanized service providers, 312 FBOs, 17 radio stations, and 27 financial institutions.
- Constructed one 500-mt and 18 80-mt capacity warehouses to improve post-harvest handling.