EFFORTS BY the Government of the United States of America (USA) to assist poor people in third world countries through the Millennium Challenge
Compact (MCC) has started producing results in Ghana.
Under its agricultural production and value-added development project, MiDA has been able to affect the lives of 52,000 smallholder farmers out of a target of 60,000.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Since March 2008, over 47,000 farmers have received free technical and skills training by specialist service providers drawn from private sector.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Each farmer has received and worked with $230 worth of inputs,Ã¢â‚¬Â Martin Esson-Benjamin, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MiDA told journalists in Accra on Thursday.
As at the end of 2009, MiDA had committed 67 percent of compact funds and disbursed 23 percent through the Bank of Ghana (BoG), representing $367 million and $127 million respectively.
MiDA is in its third year and is on course to fully exhaust the entire budget within 5 years.
According to Mr Esson-Benjamin, the compact has undertaken 10 major irrigation projects across the country to irrigate some 5,000 hectares of land to promote all-round farming.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is expected to facilitate new investments in large-scale rice and vegetable production in the Northern and Eastern Regions. MiDA is at an advanced stage of providing post harvest and value-chain infrastructure.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a first phase, a grant of $2.1 million was given to some 7 nucleus farmers under the Sea Freight Pineapple Exporters Group (SPEG) to install on-farm pre-coolers, cold storage and new pack houses to boost pineapple production.
In addition, three communal pack houses in Akorley would serve mango growing areas in the Eastern Region and Mariakrom and Otwekrom in the Central Region to support the pineapple industry,Ã¢â‚¬Â he added.
MiDA is also constructing a Perishable Cargo Centre at the Kotoka International Airport, which would be used for the packing and storage of fresh agricultural produce that are destined for the competitive export markets.
It is funding the construction of 18 private-sector managed agribusiness centres (mainly small-scale grain storage facilities) across some three zones.
MiDAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agricultural projects are spread across three intervention zones, including Northern Agricultural Zone (which covers 5 districts), Afram Basin (which comprises of 9 districts) and the Southern Horticultural belt (which covers16 districts).
Indeed, GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s $547 million compact has already increased the production and productivity of high-value cash and food staple crops as well as enhancing the competitiveness of GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agricultural products in regional and global markets.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our focus is on the smallholder farmers, whom we intend to transform into businessmen,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mr Esson-Benjamin emphasized.
In the area of rural services development, MiDA is engaged with the Ministry of Energy to extend electricity to cover 230 kilometres to nucleus farms and agribusiness centres spread across 3 selected zones for domestic and economic use (food processing and irrigation).
The programme would further install 12 transformers to boost power supply to deserving communities.
Additionally, MiDA would equip, computerise and automate all the 121 rural banks and their agencies using a common software platform.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are ready to award work contracts for the establishment of 123 small town water systems, 6 pipe extensions, 156 boreholes and the extension of the Tamale Water System from the Dalum Water Works in Tolon Kumbungu, through Savelugu-Nanton to the Tamale, which covers 67 kilometres,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
There are 534 educational facilities, ranging from three to six classroom blocks, teachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ accommodation, sanitation facilities, which are at various stages of implementation and would be completed before the end of 2011.
With two years remaining, MiDA can boast of completing about 80 percent of its job.
About $109 million still remains to be utilised by the authority, but there could be a second chance for Ghana to access funds.
By Samuel Boadi