US Aid in GhanaU.S. foreign aid is helping farmers in Ghana produce more crops during the country’s lean season. These efforts and contributions are helping to address food insecurity and grow the agriculture-based economy. Here is how U.S. aid in Ghana is helping to create measurable results for the country’s farmers. 

Ghana’s Agricultural Industry

Agriculture remains a major source of income for much of the Ghanaian population. In Ghana’s northern region, 90% of families rely on agricultural production as a means of support. However, inefficiencies and a lack of investment in the industry have led to limited production of food. 

The programs outlined below seek to reduce poverty in Ghana through improving technology and trade for Ghanaian farmers. So far, U.S. aid in Ghana has shown to be effective and impactful.

USAID Initiative

In June of 2023, USAID announced a $7 million donation to help farmers continue producing food during the lean season. This project would provide funding to more than 17,000 farmers between June and August. 

In partnering with both the World Food Program and Ghana’s government, USAID aims to promote the country’s agriculture industry and enhance the livelihoods of farmers. Alongside this initiative, USAID is working to help Ghana accomplish self-sufficiency through agricultural means. 

Feed the Future

USAID’s Feed the Future initiative focuses on boosting economic activity and growth in Ghana, providing resources and investment into the country’s agriculture industry. Feed the Future also aims to combat malnutrition, promoting the physical development of both the country and its people. 

Several goals of Feed the Future include raising profits for small farmers, facilitating agricultural trade on a regional and international level and providing nutrition for Ghana’s vulnerable populations. So far, Feed the Future has been able to provide technology and resources for more than 798,000 farmers in Ghana. 

World Food Program USA

In partnering with local farmers, the World Food Program USA (WFP) works to improve the efficiency and availability of food production technology in Ghana. WFP’s operations in Ghana also help to increase accessibility for essential staple foods, such as soybeans and corn. 

Along with this, WFP is also helping to open doors for economic development through agricultural trade. The program has been able to provide financial support for small farmers in Ghana through private-sector companies.

USDA and Agromovil

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service helps Ghanaian farmers connect with local and international buyers and sellers. These efforts have boosted Ghana’s economy and improved the lives of small farmers within the country. 

In June of 2023, USDA announced a partnership that would help to break down trade barriers and facilitate economic activity for Ghanaian farmers: Collaboration with an app called Agromovil would allow farmers to enter into a wider range of local and international markets. 

The app connects farmers with potential buyers, creating countless opportunities for agricultural workers. Agromovil increases the visibility of small farmers and ensures the increased trade of agricultural products. So far, the app has generated more than $3.5 million in sales for its users.

Agromovil has also helped close the gap between male and female farmers, providing equal access and opportunity to all farmers in Ghana. More than half the app’s users are young or female, providing a platform for underrepresented, diverse populations. 

What’s Ahead?

Looking at the success of these programs, it is clear that U.S. aid in Ghana is helping to build a self-sufficient, agriculturally-driven economy by creating opportunities for small farmers. The impacts of these programs directly benefit Ghana’s population as a whole, addressing issues of poverty and food insecurity. With these initiatives and investments in the country’s most important sector, the future looks brighter for Ghana’s economic development. 

– Mary Burke
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in Bangladesh

The agricultural sector in Bangladesh has been performing extremely well, despite its vulnerability to climate shocks. The rural economy has been a remarkable source of economic growth. This further proves the strong role of agriculture in Bangladesh poverty reduction. However, this notable transformation mostly remains underappreciated and unexplored.

Additional statistics about the agricultural sector of Bangladesh:

This growth trend has become less volatile. This is partially due to fewer natural disasters hitting the country since 2000, compared to the past decades. In addition, increased resilience in the sector through irrigation and other technology also played a role in that growth.

Role of Agriculture in Bangladesh Poverty Reduction

According to a 2017 study by BRAC’s research and evaluation division, a 1 percent rise in agricultural income has the potential to reduce poverty by 0.39 percent when keeping other factors constant. This is compared to the 0.11 percent reduction contributed by non-agricultural income.

Bangladesh is facing a shortage of labor in the agricultural sector. This is due to the growth in the industrial and service sectors in the economy over the years. Between 1971 and 2014, value added to GDP from the service sector increased from 34.2 percent to 56.1 percent. Comparatively, value added to GDP from the industrial sector was almost double, from 13.2 percent to 27.2 percent. The share of agriculture in GDP decreased from 62 percent to 16.3 percent from 1975 to 2014.

However, it should be noted that the agriculture of Bangladesh mainly consists of crops. This has not declined much with the share of crops, only decreasing from 73 to 68 (out of 100) from 1971-80 to 2011-14.

Most of the growth in the service sector stems from the marketing and processing of agricultural goods. This is primarily due to increased commercialization and diversification of the agricultural sector. As a result, an estimated 10 percent increase in agricultural income leads to a 6 percent rise in non-agricultural income. This reveals agriculture to be a catalyst in Bangladesh’s economic growth.

Factors such as extensive irrigation, developing technology using high-yielding rice varieties, efficient markets, mechanization, proper policy reforms, investment in agricultural research, human capital and necessary infrastructure have led to the growth of this sector.

Future Investments to Enhance the Role of Agriculture in Bangladesh Poverty Reduction

Developing new technology and reducing the yield gaps for non-rice crops are necessary for Bangladesh to diversify its crop yields. Active participation of the private sector in developing new technology is also important, to leave room for more innovation.

Investments in livestock, fishery and necessary infrastructure are needed so the country can shift toward high-value agriculture. According to Madhur Gautam, Team Leader for the study “Dynamics of Rural Growth in Bangladesh: Sustaining Poverty Reduction” by the World Bank:

“The market operates smoothly in Bangladesh. The country now needs upgraded market facilities, increased investments in roads to connect secondary cities, improved rural logistics and access to finance to move to the next level, with more modern and efficient supply chains.”

Another way that agriculture in Bangladesh can play a role in poverty reduction is by developing water reservoirs. This leads to increased surface water for irrigation. Reducing the use of groundwater and adopting water-saving technology is essential.

Comprehensive facilities for marketing, storage and information are also needed. This is because Bangladesh has the potential to earn more than 1.8 billion in 18 years from exports of fresh and processed food items.

Finally, given the right opportunities, women can make great contributions to the agricultural sector. Therefore, access to agricultural knowledge can help open a new window for women. Furthermore, this access has the potential to increase the productivity of this sector, enhancing the role of agriculture in Bangladesh poverty reduction.

Agriculture is an important engine of growth for the Bangladesh economy. This is why changes in some of the conventional agricultural practices are essential for this sector to contribute more to alleviating poverty in the country and improving the lives of its people.

– Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Cote d'IvoireAlthough Cote d’Ivoire’s GDP growth rate remains among the highest in the world from 2015 to 2017, 46.4 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line. The West African country, also known as Ivory Coast, relies heavily on agriculture, as do most developing countries. As the African country continues to develop, there are three possible areas that could help reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire: economic diversification, improving the agricultural industry and eliminating government corruption.

Economic Diversification

The country is over-reliant in one industry with 68 percent of Cote d’Ivoire residents having occupations in the agriculture sector. Although the country has grown partly due to the agriculture industry, relying solely on one industry is risky. Price fluctuations of popular exports, such as cocoa and coffee beans, are a high risk for Ivorians. Developing the healthcare, education, transportation, technology, infrastructure and mining industries would create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire.

Education is one productive area that would drive economic change and help reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire. Only about 48 percent of the population is literate. Education is a basic human right and necessary to develop further; investing in it is the foundation of a strong economy. However, Cote d’Ivoire is focusing more on public education. In 2014, the government spent about 4 percent of GDP on education. In comparison, the U.S. spent 5 percent of GDP on education in the same year. Investing in education has a spillover effect, as those seeking degrees in engineering or in the sciences may build hospitals or work in the lacking Ivorian healthcare industry.

Agricultural Industry Improvement

About 70 percent of the world cocoa production comes from West Africa. The country grew considerably and diversified the agriculture industry by exporting products such as cocoa beans, palm oil, coffee, bananas, sweet potatoes, cotton, sugar and many other products. Due to more than 60 percent of Ivorians relying on crops to feed their families and earn an income, further development in the agriculture industry is a viable option to reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire.

Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans. Small farmers make up most of the agriculture industry. As the country slowly transitions toward urbanization, especially in the capital and in the major port city Abidjan, investing in more advanced farming techniques could help increase production and lead to a higher income.

Eliminate Government Corruption

Reducing poverty in Cote d’Ivoire begins with government initiative and policy. A strong foundation in government policy, particularly in strengthening the economy and creating jobs, is one fundamental way to reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire. A corrupt or passive government will lead to slow or little progress toward eradicating poverty. Under the leadership of President Alassane Ouattara, the country plans to have universal, affordable and clean drinking water by 2030. This goal demonstrates that Ouattara, unlike his predecessor who started a civil war, believes in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Under President Ouattara, the Ivorian economy grew significantly. Cote d’Ivoire ranked 10th in the world in real GDP growth in 2017. In an effort to improve the economy after the civil war that stemmed from Ouattara’s election, the president increased investment in infrastructure and services. In 2008, the poverty rate was 48.9 percent. A decade later, it went down to 46.4 percent, a modest reduction, but still representing a large percentage of the population.

Reducing and ultimately eliminating poverty in Cote d’Ivoire is a long, and sometimes slow, process. It takes leadership with a moral vision to help its own people. Three solutions to the high poverty rate in Cote d’Ivoire are economic diversification, investment in the agriculture industry and strengthening government policy in order to create jobs that pay above the poverty level. Thanks to the strong growth in the Ivorian economy, poverty has already gradually reduced.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr