Have The Chickens Come Home To Roost?

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Many people who have grown up in typical traditional Ghanaian homes are familiar with animal rearing as a part of their socialisation. Stray chickens are a daily sight in the country’s communal living where hen coops are dotted around neighbourhoods. For those who attended public Senior High Schools in Ghana, your House Warden’s
backyard was the best bet to spot any ‘unsuspecting’ chicken minding its feed and not another’s business. Stories abound of notorious students who for a lack of control of their appetites courted trouble for stealing their warden’s fattened chicken saved for Christmas. For the neighbourhood chickens that are spared the torments of unrelenting fire, it remains true that they often come home to roost.

The idiom, the chickens come home to roost is attributed to the notion of bad deeds
coming back to haunt their originator. The expression is long established in the English language and was published as early as 1390, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Parson’s Tale’. Centuries after, this idiom seems to find a place in Ghana’s poultry industry. Recent developments in Ghana show that the poultry industry may suffer a collapse, a situation all stakeholders in agriculture should worry about. According to the Poultry Farmers Association , around half of Ghana’s poultry farms have already closed since last year. Association member, Yiadom Boakye, said if no action is taken to support the sector, poultry farm numbers may further reduce to 10% of that number by the end of 2022. Poultry farms are shutting down mainly due to the high price of feed and/or the lack of it. Could this be an indication that longstanding unaddressed industry problems are coming back to bite us? A case of chickens coming home to roost?

Research shows that in Ghana, poultry consumption is dominated by chicken meat.
This is followed by other poultry options like guinea fowls, ducks, turkeys and ostriches. A 2021 study of profit efficiency of layer production in Ghana further corroborates this, stating that in 2018, the livestock sector in Ghana was primarily dominated by poultry production which contributed 37% of total domestic meat production. The medium-scale and small-scale enterprises (MSMEs) highly influence these statistics with their 80% control of the sector .

Though feed supply appears the most pressing issue now, the industry is fraught with
other challenges like disease outbreaks and the heavy importation of pre-cut frozen
chicken which is cheaper for the consumer than the local chicken. Local poultry
processors in Ghana lack the infrastructure and equipment to compete with the ever-
rising rate of chicken importation. Through the rough patch, RDF Ghana is supporting the poultry sector with funds and technical assistance (TA), yielding some results to sustain livelihoods.

RDF Monitoring Visits – A Bird’s Eye View of the Poultry Sector

RDF’s monitoring visits to poultry farms in the Western North and Ashanti regions in
May and June 2022 discovered some of the aforementioned problems highlighted in the media. We visited Zakari Abdulai at Barekese in the Ashanti Region who farms for a
living. He owns a poultry farm which sits on a two-acre land. He has had 6,000 birds in
total until recently when he sold 2,000 birds. At the time of visiting, he was expecting a
new delivery of 2,000 Day-old Chicks (DOCs). Zakari reports an egg laying rate of 80%
matching a gain of 180 crates daily. However, his business is burdened by the high cost
of feed, especially maize.

“It is cost-saving to buy maize in bulk when it is in season but because of the lack of funds, we are unable to buy in bulk,” he said.

Zakari is a beneficiary of RDF’s line of credit made available to Nwabiagya Rural Bank. Through this facility, he has been able to buy more feed for his birds to keep his
business running. Zakari is relentless in growing his four-year-old business; he is
supplementing his feed purchase with the cultivation of a maize farm neighbouring his poultry farm.

Another RDF beneficiary, also under Nwabiagya Rural Bank, is Gyamfi Boateng whose wife started the business in 2004. In his bid to support his wife, Gyamfi, a retired teacher, manages his wife’s poultry business. In his own words, “I do this for my wife and myself.” It is interesting to learn that just like Zakari, Gyamfi invested his loan in
poultry feed. Even though he sells over 100 crates of eggs in three days, the cost he
has to bear in feeding his birds makes business stressful. Gyamfi, who is also the Chairman of the Poultry Farmers Association in his locality (Offinso South Municipality), almost downcast, suggested that dropping out of the industry may be a better idea for him in his present state as a pensioner. He confirmed that a good number of farmers were dropping out and selling their farms. The group, which initially had 40 members, now reports only 20 active members with 14 members only showing up at their last meeting.

The situation on feed availability and price is not different in Bibiani at John Ackah’s. On the brighter side though, John has benefited from an RDF-sponsored poultry management programme. He indicated that the technical assistance (TA) was beneficial to him such that he had implemented some of the new knowledge from the programme. The Monitoring Team saw firsthand his footbath which he said he did not have until after the TA intervention. The poultry management training programme has
grown beyond a fixed period of professional support. John now has consistent
engagements with the facilitators of the training. Following the rapport established with the programme facilitators, John has enjoyed free service in testing the quality of his poultry feed.

Have the chickens come home to roost?

RDF has invested a little over GHS3.3 Million in Ghana’s Poultry industry, constituting
15.7% of all disbursements made to agriculture since 2018. Even though the
organization is here for the long haul, it will take more than our efforts to make the
poultry industry rebound. Have the chickens come home to roost? Are we bearing the
brunt of the longstanding challenges like illegal grains export? In the wake of global
conversations on food sufficiency, it is time for Ghana to revamp grains production for a robust poultry sector. The matter about the importation of frozen chicken must also be
addressed for the benefit of Ghanaian poultry farmers. A resolution of the outstanding
problems in the sector will be a feather in the cap for the Government of Ghana. Our
visits found that averagely, farmers spent 70% of their production cost on feed. If these problems persist, what will happen to Zakari’s dream? Will Gyamfi be right about abandoning poultry farming, a worthwhile pastime in his retirement? Perhaps John Ackah’s joy after the RDF intervention programmes may be short-lived. RDF is not relenting in supporting Ghana’s poultry sector with access to finance and technical assistance. What can you do to help?

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Female Coffee Processors in Ghana: There’s a whole lot of Coffee at Farida’s!

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If you knew very little about coffee, perhaps you would know one thing, thanks to the
internationally acclaimed Ghanaian-led band of the late nineteen sixties, Osibisa; that
there’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil! And there’s a whole lot of truth in that, for a
country which produces about a third of the world’s coffee. We reminisce not only about the good rhythms of the past, but we lead you into learning about the strings of growth Farida is pulling in coffee processing in Ghana.

Hajia Farida Moro is an agro-processor at Abuakwa-Tabre in the Ashanti Region. She
processes mainly coffee, with add-on yields like soya beans, rice and wheat which she processes into tom brown, a popular African multigrain cereal powder. Hajia Farida is a beneficiary of RDF’s line of credit made available to the agriculture and renewable energy sectors. At about the age of 25, Hajia was groomed into this business by an older woman and 19 years on, she has never looked back.

Come smell some fresh roasted coffee beans

Emmanuel Kodwo Sackey, the Head of Operations, Programmes and Partnership and the rest of the visiting team from RDF, could not help but have a feel of these brown granules and take in deep breaths of the savour of some freshly roasted beans.

Hajia purchases about 10 tons of coffee beans weekly during the harvest season which starts from December to March. Hajia sources most of her coffee beans from Kwahu-Bepong in the Eastern Region. After buying the beans, Hajia roasts, grinds and bags them for sale.

Speaking on the production process, Hajia said,

At first, we used the manual process where we had to spend hours roasting the beans in pans. Now, I have been able to acquire some processing machines to make us more productive.

Mechanization has increased the volume of beans she processes by 300% to meet the
ever-increasing demand. According to Hajia Farida, during the first half of the year, the
demand for coffee is very high as farmers and farm labourers find coffee, a refreshing
energy booster during the farm preparation period.

Access to Finance

“The biggest challenge of this business is access to finance because if you do not have
enough money, you cannot buy the volumes you need to be profitable. In my case, the
access to the RDF loan provided by Sefwiman Rural Bank has given my business the
boost I needed.”

The beauty of her work is her tenacity in business which has seen her grow to have her
own ‘mini-factory.’

Senanu Tord of the Voice of America in a news report in May 2022 reveals that

More than half of Ghana’s 15 new roasting companies belong to women who pay more for the beans from local farmers than exporters do.

It is worth noting that the export of green coffee beans dwindled because of the growth of local roasters in Ghana, most of which are owned by women. This wave was so intense that there was a period of zero export of green coffee beans because the local industry took over the processing of green coffee beans.

Essentially, the report tells about how women in agriculture are taking the lead in coffee production following the introduction of modified seedlings and new farm practices.

The report further indicates that trade in coffee makes up the largest part of tropical
beverages even more than cocoa and tea. The Government of Ghana says its goal is to
grow coffee to outgrow cocoa production or at least match cocoa’s income generation.
Against this backdrop, one can only anticipate the success that lies ahead for Hajia and
many other women in coffee processing once the business climate is supportive of their
efforts.

Value addition and the spiraling effect

A good partnership makes a good business better. With the help of RDF’s partner,
Sefwiman Rural Bank, Hajia is formalising her business. The bank is assisting her with
the Food and Drugs Authority certification process. This step will enable her to start branding her products for the market, a strategy RDF is looking to offer technical assistance for, to allow Hajia access a wider market, increase and sustain interest in her products.

Hajia has no formal training in her business, however, one would be impressed with her
ingenuity. Perhaps our sweetest memory of Hajia is the inviting aroma of her tom brown mix. It is simply inescapable! She blends milled rice, wheat and soya beans and adds
value to it by including milk and sugar to make it a complete quick cereal meal.

In the face of rising prices and unavailability of poultry feed, it is worth noting that Hajia has been supporting the poultry industry with the sale of processed soya beans. Also, Hajia supplies processed coffee beans to companies that require coffee to make
various kinds of beverages and confectionaries.

Where agriculture and aspirations embrace

Hajia Farida Moro envisions this business to grow into a big factory where she can
employ more people to trade value to the Ghanaian and the international community.
She has actually begun the process of acquiring land to bring this vision to life. With the
support of her caring husband, there is no limit to what Hajia can do. Currently, she has
five (5) employees including two (2) females. This business is creating a chain of
development in the Ashanti Region; one of her employees is a young Senior High
School graduate who is saving up money earned from the business in preparation
towards his teacher training education. One vision, one woman, many beneficiaries.

RDF has got the Ghanaian agro-woman’s back

RDF is looking to facilitate the branding of Hajia’s goods for the local and international
market. The organisation understands that branding is a core function in today’s
competitive market place and is also essential in nurturing trust and longevity thus our
readiness to invest in the process.

The monitoring visit brought to the fore some other key needs calling for technical
assistance. These observations have to do with structural expansion, product storage and ensuring the occupational health and safety of Hajia Farida and her staff. Hajia also revealed that erratic power supply in her locality hindered business. While RDF explores energy solutions to assist Farida, we are open to engage with state agencies on how to make the business environment supportive of businesses like that of Farida’s.

Next time you travel through the Ashanti Region, turn on Osibisa’s coffee song and
dance your way to Abuakwa-Tabre because there sure is a whole lot of coffee at
Farida’s. RDF Ghana is looking to engage and support more women like Hajia Farida
Moro. Are you one?

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The Vast Potential in Crop Farming – Daniel Kwasi Tawiah Shows the Way

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Daniel Kwasi Tawiah’s journey in agriculture is a living example of the expression, ‘passion fuels dream.’ For Daniel, the classroom was not the best place for him to fully express his potential. Seeming quite embarrassed about it, he recalls, “I was not smart in school and always returned home with poor grades.”

However, his eyes lit up when he began to speak about his love for agriculture. “I learned early that school was not for me. It was just not working for me so after Junior Secondary School (now Junior High School), I decided to go into farming which I already found exciting!”

It all started in 1992 and Daniel has not looked back since then. After the decision to venture into agribusiness, he now owns a two-acre pepper farm, a three-acre garden egg farm, an eight-acre rice farm, a twelve-acre cocoa farm, a pen which houses 15 sheep and an agro-chemical shop which he set up for his wife to manage. Daniel’s not done yet. Intrinsic to his burgeoning strategy in farming, he has constructed a pigsty to begin a piggery. This man means business.

From seed in the soil to cash in the pocket

Describing how business works for him, from planting to harvesting, Daniel says since
he sought to make a living out farming, he decided to venture into two fast-yielding
crops; pepper and garden eggs. He said the decision has been rewarding, revealing
that, “Pepper takes about three (3) to four (4) months to be ready for harvesting, and the good part is that you can continue to harvest for one year after the first harvest.”

During harvest seasons, he harvests seven (7) to eight (8) bags of pepper weekly,
selling each bag at an average GHS120. Additionally, he harvests 30 bags of garden
eggs weekly and sells them at GHS80 per bag. The harvest time for garden eggs is also
three (3) months after planting.

Opportunities in agriculture
In a 2016 published report on the case of Ghana in Youth inclusiveness in agricultural transformation, the Author, Yannicke Goris asserts that,

The agricultural sector is seen as having the most potential of catalyzing economic growth and employment for young people, especially given the growing demand for food and raw materials. Yet, throughout Sub-Saharan Africa – and Ghana is no exception – young people do not regard agriculture as a viable job option.

Daniel is one of the few Ghanaians blazing the trail in agriculture. Apart from his undying passion for his trade, a unique trait Daniel possesses is his versatility in agriculture. He is living proof that one can earn their income solely from agriculture once they fully explore the commercial avenues.
RDF’s influence in the sector

RDF Ghana is proud to be a part of Daniel’s journey. Daniel is a beneficiary of RDF’s line of credit disbursed to Rural and Community Banks for the development of
agriculture and rural development. He has benefitted from three (3) loan cycles
including the Asset Finance Facility, from Sefwiman Rural Bank (a Partner Financial
Institution of RDF) to enable him to purchase a Kia truck to facilitate the movement of
his goods.

As is characteristic of any business, there are challenges that need to be overcome.
Daniel shared some of his challenges with RDF.

The land tenure system has not been too favourable to Daniel. Thus he keeps moving
from one place to the other to plant, grow and harvest. He is currently seeking a piece
of land he can own for the long term.

Also, Daniel pointed out a need for education on disease control, a request RDF is
strongly considering for his benefit and the benefit of other farmers within his
community. Last year, RDF in partnership with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science
and Technology (KNUST) organised an Integrated Soil and Fertility Management
(ISFM) programme to deliver training and support services to a total of 448 cocoa and
other crop farmers in the Western, Western-North, and Central Regions. As a result of consistent engagements with farmers like Daniel and agribusiness players in general, Daniel should soon be benefitting from these pieces of training and services aimed at boosting the quality and volumes of agricultural produce.

The future is here
Daniel Tawiah is making it happen! He is feeding his family and communities, employing people and making agriculture thrive. He owns two houses and employs three people. You can do it too. Let’s start with a backyard garden, shall we? The results will certainly be exciting to see. RDF asks, “Are you the next Daniel?”

Cheers to a sustainable future and more employment in agriculture!

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Making Funds Accessible for Foodstuffs Trading – The Bibiani Market Story

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It is a regular market day in the Bibiani Market. Traders are displaying their wares while making the most of their voices – from harmonious strains to discordant ones – and gestures are not left out of efforts to grab one’s attention. It is not unusual to meet the gaze of a trader whose eyes plead for your attention towards her goods; it could be a wink, a warm smile, or the ‘I am ready to engage you’ kind of countenance. In the marketplace, every effort counts.

For the prospective buyer, your likely assessment of the scenery is that business may be effortless for these traders who proudly display plump tomatoes, ‘fully-muscled’ garden eggs, bulky onions and colourful habanero peppers. Indeed, the colours in the marketplace are eye-pleasing! It is worth mentioning that there are untold stories behind all the colours, dins and bustle in the market. Here is a story about some of these traders; a story of some amazing women utilizing loan facilities procured from one of RDF’s partner financial institutions, Sefwiman Rural Bank.

Meet Mary
Mary Atoboga is a trader in the Bibiani Market. She retails beans, maize, rice and spices. Mary has been in this business for the past 20 years. She says the business is profitable as she is able to make a gross profit of about GHS800 per week. She owns four storerooms in the market. Apart from selling in the market, Mary supplies grains to some selected schools running the Government of Ghana’s School Feeding programme. What could go wrong for Mary?

Mary Atobogah at her stall

Mary is a beneficiary of RDF’s line of credit facility made available to selected Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) committed to supporting the agriculture and renewable energy sectors. She has accessed the facility three times in three years to support her business including accessing the Asset Finance Facility to enable her to purchase a tricycle to improve the transportation of her goods. With the support provided, Mary is thriving and eager to move on to the next level in her business. Currently, she provides employment to three other women, helping solve the yawning problem of unemployment. She scores a point on providing income opportunities for women, in line with SDG Goal 5 which promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The story has not always been so for Mary. Like many other businesses, trading foodstuffs requires funds to keep it running.

Agriculture and trade – the pair that engender sustainability

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),

“Trade plays a crucial role in providing livelihoods for farmers and people employed along the food supply chain. It also contributes to reducing food insecurity across the globe and provides greater choice in consumer goods.”

Statistics indicate that trade in foodstuffs has grown strongly over the last two decades, reaching almost 7% in real terms annually between 2001 and 2019. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic led to trade disruptions worldwide, the agricultural and food sector is reported to have demonstrated more resilience than other sectors of the economy. Despite all the successes chalked and the limitless potential of foodstuffs trading, traders continue to face constraints that trickle down to consumers, threatening the stability of the industry.

In Mary’s account of her challenges, she lamented that the cost of food, particularly, maize was shooting up almost every day.

Generally, it is difficult to purchase maize these days because the price keeps soaring. Without sufficient funds, it is impossible to buy grains because the wholesalers no longer give us the goods on credit,” she said

She added that apart from skyrocketing prices, marketing and market linkages are challenges affecting her trade.

To mitigate these challenges, RDF Ghana LBG has since 2018 made funds available to help people like Mary to remain in business. RDF is committed to funding agriculture/agribusiness to enable us to put our theory of change into practice.

RDF’s theory of change states that,

if financial institutions have access to loans and credit guarantees for on-lending; then MSMEs in agriculture and renewable energy will have increased access to working capital and term loans; resulting in the growth of MSMEs engaged in agriculture and renewable energy; leading to increased incomes and creation of new jobs with better opportunities for women.

The story of the market woman is important because she is an indispensable agent in getting food, a basic need for human survival, from the farm to our kitchen. In an article by Maggie O’Neill titled ‘In Ghana, Women and Market Queens dominate the economy,’ The author notes that,

While the women running hectic marketplaces like this (Makola Market) do not hold official political power, their collective force is what drives the consumer economy of Ghana. Because of this, the government eagerly stays on good terms with the market women.

An Agricultural sector review conducted in Ghana in 2020 indicates that agriculture contributes 19.7% of Ghana’s current Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounts for over 30% of export earnings and serves as a major source of inputs to our manufacturing industry. According to David Tanoh-Aduhene and Eric Osei Assibey in a 2020 study on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Ghana’s economy, the sector employs an estimated 60% of the Ghanaian population. It is also the largest sector that provides income for most households, especially rural residents of the country. Also, research indicates that Small and Medium Entreprises (SMEs) contribute more than 50 percent of Ghana’s total (GDP). These statistics make one see how people like Mary are important in the discourse on Ghana’s economic growth.
Consistent collaborative efforts will make the sector thrive
While organisations like RDF Ghana exist to ensure that Ghana makes the most of agriculture, it is imperative that government consistently creates an enabling environment by formulating and actively implementing policies that are favourable towards the agribusiness ecosystem and the agricultural sector in general. This is critical for families like that of Rebecca Anyimah, who like Mary, trades in grains, spices and other food products at the Bibiani Market. She is the breadwinner of a home of seven children and a husband who is currently out of job.

Rebecca Anyimah at her stall

Back to the question of what could go wrong for Mary? Without a check on prices, women like Mary and Rebecca may suffer unduly to stay in business. The burden will be passed on to the consumer who has to pay extra for their daily food. Regardless of the current bottlenecks, RDF Ghana is working with rural and community banks in Ghana to cushion the financial challenges of actors in the agricultural value chain.

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RDF Ghana LBG, National Banking College unveil Remerb

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1st April 2022 – RDF Ghana LBG in collaboration with the National Banking College, with support from the Association of Rural Banks (ARB) and ARB Apex Bank, has unveiled a training programme named RDF Executive Management Essentials for Rural Banking (REMERB) to meet the growing training needs of the Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) in Ghana.

In an event that took place at the National Banking College, assembling over 50 key stakeholders in the Rural and Community Banking sector, the principal collaborators engaged participants on the details of REMERB and allowed for discourse on the inclusion of other elements which could further strengthen the programme.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RDF Ghana. Mr. Yaw Oppong said,

RDF Ghana finds it gratifying to be spearheading support to institutions which are central to the execution of our mandate to promote inclusive rural development in Ghana by primarily providing finance to the agricultural and renewable energy value chains and supplementing this intervention with technical assistance.

According to him, the partnership for such a programme emerged from consistent and intentional engagements with RDF’s partner financial institutions (PFIs). The CEO said appraisals of these PFIs were consolidated and their challenges teased out for the formulation of a remedial programme which has now come to be known as RDF Executive Management Essentials for Rural Banking (REMERB). 

It is important to acknowledge that this programme has become possible because of our partnership with the National Banking College, which has been gracious in making their expertise and time available to help develop this programme,

he added. For her part, the Principal of the National Banking College, Ms. Gloria Darline Quartey, said,

The National Banking College is privileged to be the principal implementer of this innovative programme by RDF Ghana. We decided to go on this journey with RDF Ghana because the goal of RDF is to see a more robust and resilient rural banking system in Ghana subsumed in our mission as a college to provide professional training to deliver the capacity for sustained quality service of the banking and financial services industry through demand-driven Training, Applied Research, Consultancy and Information Dissemination.  We are hopeful that the programme will yield the desired result by contributing to building the competencies of the Rural and Community Banks that are at the forefront of delivering banking services to areas that need them the most. 

As a commemorative act, a board member of RDF Ghana, Florence Ohene Kyei, unveiled an art piece to mark the opening of the programme.

The Director of studies at the National Banking College, Dr. Stephen Antwi, the lead facilitator of REMERB, took participants through the course modules and invited his colleague faculty members to speak on various aspects of the programme for which they would be facilitating. The session was followed by a period for questions and input into the programme.

Dr. Antwi expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the programme formulation and spoke about the eagerness of his faculty in making the programme work.  

The RCBs were represented by the Executive Director of the Association of Rural Banks, Mrs. Comfort Owusu and the sector regulator, represented by the CEO of ARB Apex Bank, Mr. Alex Awuah, both partners of the event. The two entities in their separate remarks commended RDF Ghana LBG and NBC for providing invaluable industry-wide support.

The event brought together CEOs of RCBs — the direct beneficiaries of REMERB — from various regions across the country who generally expressed that the programme was a timely and useful intervention to help them overcome the obstacles besetting the sector. 

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