Rice farming in Botanga, Ghana, has seen an increase in productivity due to an agricultural project funded by the USAID.  The Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) program started two years ago to help farmers who use the lands of the Botanga Irrigation Scheme. The program was designed to increase productivity.

Marketing companies and produce buyers were brought into the project to help the rice farmers grow and cultivate improved rice varieties. Currently around 600 farmers are farming the land and many of them have benefited from the ADVANCE project. The rice cultivated is used mainly for cereal and vegetables. The project brought in combine harvesters that have improved rice harvesting and helped to lower some of the post-harvest losses in Botanga. Rice farmers were educated on better farming techniques. They were shown how to create nurseries and replant with adequate spacing to ensure better yields for future crops. The ADVANCE project also helped improve the business side of rice farming.  Farmers were offered support in selling crops and provided information and expert knowledge on controlling pests and disease.

Food insecurity is a major issue across all developing nations and Ghana is no exception. The USAID-ADVANCE project hoped to improve food security and increase the incomes of households of rice farmers in the Botanga region.  A value-chain method was developed to allow farmers access to all parts of the production process such as input dealers, seed suppliers, and produce buyers.  The method starts first with identifying a buyer and demand for the product to ensure crops can be sold. Premium Foods and AMSIG Resources were two buyers linked to the rice farmers. The buyers then developed contracts with the farmers that provide support, weed control, seeds, and an agreed upon price to buy the rice from the farmers.

Since the ADVANCE program began, 29,000 low income farmers are being supported. These farmers grow maize, rice, and soybeans. They are getting the help they need to grow successful crops and are being paid a fair market price for their produce. 269 demonstration sites have also been set up to show farmers new technology and how to best utilize it.  The introduction of infrastructure and technology have helped Botanga rice farmers improve their lifestyles. The project also falls in line with President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: GhanaWeb