How data helped transform agricultural value chains in Northern Ghana
Using a data-led approach, this program improved the incomes and resilience of poor farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana by improving the way that markets work, with a particular focus on agricultural value chains.
Regional inequality in Ghana
Ghana has made great strides towards economic growth and development in the past few decades. However, much of this development has been centered in the southern part of the country, leaving the north in poverty.
The MADE approach to development
From 2014 through 2020, under DAI’s framework contract with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Nathan Associates, UK implemented the Market Development Programme (MADE) for Northern Ghana. The aim of this project was to improve the incomes and resilience of poor farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs in Northern Savannah, with a particular focus on agricultural value chains (the full range of activities that bring a crop to the consumer). Instead of working directly with farmers, MADE decided to have a greater impact by working with agribusiness to create better business models. By using data to inform the development of the models, they were able to build better, more sustainable relationships with smallholder farmers. MADE used a graduation model to help broker relationships between various Ghanaian organizations to improve the value chain.
Impressive value chain results
In a few short years, by focusing their efforts on professionalizing agribusinesses, MADE was able to significantly increase the income of the farmers by an average of 7,972 GHS, or approximately 1,175 EUR (the annual income for the country was 5,346.91 GHS or 787.04 EUR). Nearly 95,000 farmers and small-scale enterprises experienced positive income change . Market actors had a 90% confidence in the business models created by the project for the agribusinesses at the end of the program in 2020, and private sector investment reached 60.7 million GBP (71 million EUR) .
Moreover, the project’s anecdotal stories are compelling. For example, Antika Company, a MADE partner since 2014, is now able to provide inputs and services indirectly to over 15,000 farmers. The company saw massive yield improvements: 142% for maize, 124% for rice, and 112% for soybeans. Aggregation more than doubled in a few years, going from 850MT in 2015 to 1,990MT in 2018 . Antika was also able to form essential relationships with key market players. SCOPEinsight’s assessments shed additional light on Antika’s success. According to our data, Antika, by project end, had significant improvement in internal business performance and outranked other regional agribusinesses we have in our database.
How MADE improved livelihoods in Ghana
The starting point for MADE’s success in Ghana was to be able to segment the agribusinesses by the level of professionalism; this would allow them to provide their Advance Business Model in a tailored way. Using SCOPEinsight’s SCOPE Basic tool, MADE assessed fifty-three firms. The results of the assessments helped MADE and their partner firms figure out what exactly needed to be improved in each firm and how best to go about making those improvements.
Using the Advanced Business Model, MADE assembled packages for smallholder farmers, including both physical inputs like seeds and fertilizers and services based on things like water management and farm advisory, and offer these packages at scale and on credit. While the partner firms manage the delivery of their packages, all of the goods and services are not solely provided by one firm. Instead, firms work with service companies, which deepens their business relationship. By having a single firm ensure the inputs get to the farmers, the engagement between the two groups increases, which can improve the reliability and quality of the supply provided by the farmers.
A successful legacy left behind
Throughout the life of the project, data assisted MADE to improve the business practices of 114 firms in Northern Ghana. Through these agribusinesses, the project drastically improved the lives of nearly 140,000 farmers with access to inputs and services. Nearly 95,000 farmers have earned higher incomes since project inception and nearly 110,000 farmers and rural enterprises having higher turnover rates . Smallholder farmers have had increases in productivity that has, in turn, translated into stronger agribusinesses. These smallholder farmers are now able to repay the loans they received, and this example has only increased the general interest in these loans.
The MADE Legacy is one of success in proving that data can support private sector approaches and that this approach is transformative and thrusts Northern Ghana’s modernization forward. The partnerships MADE facilitated will live on, and the businesses they helped will enjoy the gains for years to come.
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 Source: The MADE Legacy
 Source: MADE End of Programme Learning Event
 Source: MADE Phase 2 Report, 2020