Business News of Saturday, 28 February 2015
SEND-Ghana’s Food security through Co-operatives in Northern Ghana (FOSTERING) project is on course in the eastern corridor of the Northern Region.
As poverty alleviation donor fund managers, SEND-Ghana is up-scaling the five years project in eight districts comprising Kpandai, East Gonja, Nanumba North and Nanumba South districts, Krachi-Nchumuru, Zabzugu-Korli, Tatale Sanguli and Chereponi.
Over 331,800 individual food crop small holder farmers including family members from 5,400 households are expected to benefit from the project. Under the auspices of the Canadian Cooperative Association in partnership with SEND-Ghana’s Credit Union Association of Ghana (CUA), the 8,032,149 Canadian Dollar project is funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) with contribution from Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA).
At the official launch in Salaga, SEND-West Africa Chief Executive Officer, Siapha Kamara said the organization will continue to empower community members especially women to hold duty bearers accountable for their stewardship. “Lack of accountability is one of the major causes of development failure: sometimes lack of accountability by those who are delivering development through the financial resources they have received on behalf of the communities and they are not aware.”
“The people who will come to FOSTERING for example, who will take the farming loans and they will not pay, that is the lack of accountability, we want to stop that: what about my officers who will go for workshops and inflate the figures, what about district officials who say they are going to workshops and they don’t go and yet they claim perdiem, these are all different ways in which development resources are not been used to achieve our objectives and we want to be able to set best practices to stop that.”
Mr. Kamara said the project will focus on expanding soya bean production and consumption to improve nutrition to address the issue of malnutrition. He projected that the production of soya beans in large quantities will boost the beneficiary farmers’ income levels.
According to him, the project will encourage farmers to adopt quality seeds which can withstand climate change. The East Gonja District Chief Executive, Aminu Luqman thanked SEND-Ghana and its allied bodies for implementing projects in the area to improve the residents’ livelihood.
He said the assembly had already incorporated the FOSTERING project into its long term development agenda to make it successful. “The assembly has already incorporated and streamlined the FOSTERING project into our long term plans and is been reflected in our annual action plans: we have also signed the relevant MOUs to support the implementation of the project.”
In a statement signed by SEND-Ghana’s Director in charge of the Livelihood Security Programme, Raymond Wekem Avatim explained that the project was consistent with the African Union Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), Ghana’s Medium Term Agriculture Investment Plan (METASIP) and the Government of Canada’s Development Strategy for Ghana.
He said the FOSTERING project will thrive on the achievements chalked by the food security program partners including SEND, CUA and CCA. Among the project’s achievements, he revealed that more than 21,056 beneficiaries were mobilized as members of 13 community based credit unions, 47 farmer cooperatives and microfinance groups in 8 districts in the Eastern Corridor of the Northern region.
Out of the aforementioned populace, about 13,308 represented women, Raymond Avatim highlighted. He further divulged that the credit unions in the last six months of 2013 mobilized GHC 2,997,168 million in savings and issued more than GHC 1,758,838.00 loans to members.
Raymond Avatim credited the 13 credit unions with a net asset base of more than GHC 3,858,876.00 million. He further extolled the credit unions for developing an inventory credit system that provided storage facilities for regulating market prices in favour of farmers which increased the farmers’ income by 64%.
He said SEND-Ghana and its development partners considered soya bean production as an integral part of the farming system and concluded that the FOSTERING project will help improve food and nutrition security which will inure to the benefit of the children and women.
Raymond Avatim was glad that the implementation of the FOSTERING project has improved the living conditions of an appreciable number of women and children who were afflicted with chronic energy deficiency and nutritional disorders within SEND-GHANA’s operational zones.
SEND-Ghana in June 2014 began disbursing a 700,000 Canadian Dollar package as loans to small holder farmers in the eastern corridor of the Northern Region. An amount of GHC 454,950 was given to 800 small holder farmers comprising 449 men and 351 women in the Kpandai, Nanumba North and East Gonja districts.
Depending on the size of the farmlands, each beneficiary received between GHC450 and GHC900 cedis subject to refund within nine months. It was meant to intensify pro-poor interventions implemented by SEND-Ghana and its collaborators to improve the livelihoods of rural dwellers whose economic main stay is agriculture.
The recipients were allowed to cultivate any crops of their own choice though SEND-Ghana suggested that premium should be placed on soya bean production. At the local level, the project is being implemented in collaboration with District Agricultural Departments, District Health Directorates, Non-Formal Education Division (NFED), Department of Cooperatives, Ghana Police Service, District Assemblies and Traditional Authorities.
The FOSTERING projected is expected to increase sustainable, gender equitable food security for over 42,000 women and men in 5,400 households within 130 communities in eight (8) districts.
It is also expected to guarantee food security and sustainable economic growth for small-holder farmers through improved production, better marketing of products, expansion of household activities into off-season businesses and access to finance.