Govt policy to get boost with APRA studies on agric commercialisation

The study will focus on cocoa production, but will include farming of other food crops

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) has held a workshop with stakeholders in the agric sector to generate inputs for an upcoming research into commercialisation.

The study, which will span at least five months, is expected to begin later this year and will seek to understand the different types of agric commercialisation pathways that can secure for the country and farmers optimal benefits.

It will also look into the impact of the existing commercialisation methods in Ghana on the livelihoods of farmers and also suggest to policy-makers the best methods to support.

Country Director for APRA in Ghana, Dr Fred Dzanku, says the project is expected to cost some $600,000 and would focus on production of crops such as cocoa, oil palm as well as other select crops in the Western, Central, Eastern and Ashanti regions.

“If you look at government policy, over time the emphasis has been that if we can help smallholder farmers to commercialise, to participate in markets, it will lead to better outcomes in terms of their livelihood and in poverty reduction as well as better security for their nutritional needs, but it is not clear which of these commercialisation types have worked in a way that policy has envisaged,” he said on the sidelines of the workshop that was held at Yiri Lodge in Accra.

APRA, which operates in Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, hopes to find the best forms of commercialisation that are most effective in empowering women and girls, reducing rural poverty and improving food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We want to see which types of commercialisation is more suitable. Is it large plantation? Is medium scale? And the type of linkages which the different types of commercialization can have on the livelihood of smallholder farmers in order to improve their livelihood, reduce poverty and ensure food security,” Dr Dzanku explained.

Research Coordinator of the project for Ghana and Nigeria, Prof Joseph Yaro, said the study hopes to scale out its findings to ensure that all stakeholders in the agric production value chain understand the situation on the ground.

Photo: Prof Yaro said the study hopes to include varied stakeholder inputs as much as possible.

“We want to deal with different farmer groups with this particular knowledge. We want to know what in our research would be of interest to them,” he said.

The research will use panel discussions with various agriculture stakeholders, longitudinal studies of different pathways of commercialisation and policy studies to assess outcomes such as employment rate and conditions, empowerment of women and children among others.

The one-day workshop brought together stakeholders from the Ghana Cocoa Board, the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), as well other private institutions.