How data helped transform agricultural value chains in Northern Ghana
Using a data-led approach, the MADE program improved the incomes and resilience of poor farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana. This was done by improving the way that markets work, with a particular focus on agricultural value chains.
The MADE approach to development
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. To support the northern part of the country, Nathan Associates implemented the Market Development Programme (MADE) for Northern Ghana, under DAI’s framework contract with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) .
The aim of this project, which lasted from 2014 through 2020, was to improve the incomes and resilience of poor farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs. The project had 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 worked with agribusiness to create better business models. They found that this could create a wider-ranging impact. 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.
How MADE improved livelihoods in Ghana
The starting point for MADE’s success in Ghana was segmenting their agribusinesses by their level of professionalism. This was done through a SCOPE Basic assessment. By using a single, standardized assessment tool to measure the fifty-three different agribusinesses, MADE was able to compare the results and segment them accordingly. The results from the assessments also showed MADE the strengths and weaknesses of each agribusiness. This allowed them to tailor their Advance Business Model and improve each agribusiness in the most efficient way.
Using their Advanced Business Model, MADE assembled packages for smallholder farmers. These included both physical inputs like seeds and fertilizers and services based on things like water management and farm advisory. They offered these packages at scale and on credit. The partner firms managed the delivery of the packages, but they did not provide all of the goods and services. Instead, the firms worked with service companies, which deepened their business relationship. By having the firms 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.
Impressive value chain results
By focusing their efforts on professionalizing agribusinesses, MADE was able to make significant impact in a few short years. The income of the farmers increased by an average of approximately €1,175. Nearly 95,000 farmers and small-scale enterprises experienced positive income change. Market actors had a 90% confidence in the business models created for the agribusinesses, and private sector investment reached €71 million.
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 assessment results also show the improvements made during the project. Approximately 30% of MADE’s agribusinesses are professional, and as a whole, the agribusinesses’ scores are higher than the regional and global benchmarks in almost every dimension. With Antika Company specifically, our data showed significant improvement in internal business performance. Their performance far outranked other regional agribusinesses found in our database.
A successful legacy left behind
Throughout the project, MADE used data 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 have higher turnover rates. Smallholder farmers have had increases in productivity that have, in turn, translated into stronger agribusinesses. These smallholder farmers are now able to repay the loans they received. 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. MADE’s results show that this approach is transformative and can thrust 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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