The Northern Ghana Integrated Development Project (NGIDP): Promoting opportunities for sustainable agriculture, social protection and decent work in the agrarian sector. The project which is being funded by the EU is a consortium of ActionAid Ghana, URBANET and Tree Aid Ghana and would span a period of four years, 2019 to 2023. It will lead to the reduction of rural poverty by promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices thus contributing to the green economy, creating opportunities for income generation within the agricultural value chain, and enhancing access to social protection services. The specific objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of local CSOs to become drivers of innovation in research-based climate-resilient sustainable agriculture, related social enterprises and responsive social protection. This is in recognition of the crucial role that CSOs and social movements play in the provision of services, especially in rural areas, as well as their power to influence local and national level decisions and policies backed by their constituencies and technical expertise. The project will also address the social and economic vulnerabilities of marginalized groups of people such as women smallholders, unemployed young people and people living with disabilities by building their agencies and capacities for income-generating activities and integrating decent work and social protection within the development of the agricultural sector where most rural women find their livelihoods. Overall, we will reach 825,000 people in the 15 districts of implementation, through the improved delivery of extension services, increased awareness on rights to land, social protection and decent work.
The project has an extensive reach and combines community rootedness and high-level advocacy. In addition to strengthening the community mobilization and advocacy activities of thirty (30) CSOs with a membership of 3,600, it will work in 300 communities in 15 districts3 across the three regions in the north of Ghana (that is Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions) which are high-risk areas and suffer most from changing climate and destructive land use practices. Over a period of 48 months, this action will empower 13,500 marginalized women smallholder farmers, young people and people with disabilities, strengthen 300 women farmer groups, 15 farmer networks and train 1,050 CSO and group leaders, resulting in increased, secure and sustainable incomes, access to social protection mechanisms, more local agri-business enterprises and job opportunities that adhere to decent work principles.
USAID/ADVANCE II Project: Leveraging Stakeholder Support for Enhanced Smallholder Farmer Access to Agriculture Extension Services
URBANET has received funding from USAID/ADVANCE II to advocate for better access to agricultural extension services in the Northern Region in 2018. URBANET will work in 20 communities across four districts, Mion, Yendi, Gushegu and Chereponi, to collect and distribute information about the current quality of extension services at the community and district level, give a platform for farmer’s voices, and organize meetings with key stakeholders. URBANET will use the community scorecard methodology to enable farmers to analyze the quality of extension services in their communities, as well as allow the Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) and the Ministry of Food Agriculture (MoFA) to self-evaluate their services.
Half of the total labour force in Ghana is engaged in farming, forestry, fishing and hunting according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (2010). Despite producing almost 80% of food crops in Ghana, farmers in the northern regions rarely reach the full achievable yield (MoFA, 2012). AEAs are the direct source of agriculture information and technology for farmers, which can help to improve crop yields and productivity. The role they play is especially important as many smallholder farmers are not literate and cannot read agriculture extension manuals or instructions on farm input materials. However, the numbers of AEAs are extremely inadequate, with a ratio in the Northern Region of 1 AEA to 5000 farmers. Furthermore, funds allocated to AEAs by MoFA are inadequate, and often released late, if at all. Therefore, often AEAs are unable to pay for fuel or transport to visit communities, and are not able to maintain demonstration fields or support farmers to the capacity needed.
This project will capitalize on the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program, which aims to strengthen the agriculture sector in Ghana, including by hiring more AEAs and improving extension services. By raising farmer’s voices, and presenting evidence of the current, poor agricultural extension services, this project will pressure the government to use the resources allotted under the Planting for Food and Jobs program to improve extension service delivery and ratios of AEAs in the Northern Region.
URBANET has received funding from EMpower, the Emerging Markets Foundation, to support the development of programs that empower youth with skills training and development, particularly young girls. EMpower is a USA-based charity organization that focusses on supporting youth in emerging market countries through partnerships and grants given to local organizations. The goals of EMpower align with the focus of URBANET, to address the needs of Ghana’s expanding youth population, who often have few skills and livelihood opportunities.
According to the Ghana Statistical Service (2010) a quarter of Ghana’s population is between the ages of 15 and 24. Moreover, 55.4% of the Northern Region population is under the age of twenty. Thus, youth make up a significant portion of Ghana’s population. Yet they often face great challenges, including an unemployment rate of an average 19.5%, according to the World Development Database (2012), with that rate jumping to 48.6 % in the Northern Region (Ghana Statistical Service, 2010). Youth also face high levels of illiteracy, lack of education, and inability to access credit or jobs skills training. Women face further sociocultural barriers, and are more likely to drop out of school and have difficulty accessing credit and other resources. These challenges leave youth vulnerable to poverty, unsafe working conditions, sexual abuse and rape, and HIV/AIDS.
URBANET’s relationship with EMpower focuses on a diverse portfolio of projects, which enables the organization to meet the various needs of youth in northern Ghana. This includes programs to train young people, especially women, in Shea Butter processing, as Community Livestock Workers and as Seed Producers. These projects simultaneously address the critical need for youth skills training and employment, while also providing in-demand goods and services. Quality seeds, for example, are a sought-after product in the Northern Region, as are Community Livestock Workers, who bridge the gap between the hugely understaffed veterinary services and smallholder farmers. As well, the Shea Butter value chain represents a lucrative and growing employment opportunity.
URBANET’s relationship with Empower also recognizes the widespread challenges faced by youth, and particularly young girls, beyond simply a lack of employment. To this end, the organization addresses these challenges through complementary training in reproductive health, gender issues, business and entrepreneurship and information communication. Overall, through funding from EMpower, URBANET aims to increase youth livelihoods through capacity and skills development, which is gradually increasing employment opportunities as well as encouraging youth to re-enter education and to start their own businesses.
URBANET has partnered with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) on their Uniterra program, which aims to build the capacity of local partner organizations through volunteer cooperation and knowledge exchange. URBANET has hosted two Uniterra volunteers thus far. Uniterra is a joint program of WUSC and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI), both Canadian organizations that work in volunteer cooperation and international development. The program focuses on improving socio-economic conditions of marginalized and poor communities, particularly by stimulating inclusive economic growth in key subsectors, through supporting local partner organizations.
WUSC’s vision for inclusive economic development falls in line with URBANET’s core values: A focus on building capacities in communities, with a particular emphasis on supporting women and youth. In Ghana, WUSC works in the agriculture (livestock and legumes) and residential construction subsectors, the former of which directly complements URBANET’s work in securing food and nutrition in northern Ghana.
In particular, URBANET hosted a volunteer for three months this past summer (May-July 2017) and helped facilitate research on the guinea fowl value chain, organized by WUSC and the University of Development Studies. Due to local demand, guinea fowl have been identified as a potential avenue to increase income and overall livelihood of farmers in northern Ghana. However, there is difficulty connecting local farmers to the value chain, which would allow for increased economic benefits, thus necessitating the need for further research into the guinea fowl value chain. As well, another volunteer has been tasked with following up on the research, and identifying opportunities, challenges, gaps and linkages in the guinea fowl value chain, over the next eight months (September 2017-April 2018).
Uniterra volunteers also lend institutional support to URBANET, allowing the organization to increase their capacity to carry out their goal of supporting smallholder farmers, women and youth, increasing food security and ensuring environmental sustainability.
N2AFRICA is a large scale, science-based “research-in-development” project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. The project vision of success is to build sustainable, long-term partnerships to enable African smallholder farmers to benefit from symbiotic N2-fixation by grain legumes through effective production technologies, including inoculants and fertilizers.
In partnership with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), URBANET has in the first phase of the project disseminated improved grain legume varieties, rhizobium inoculants and phosphate based fertilizers to 5000 farmers in Karaga and the Savelugu/Nanton districts of Northern Region.
N2Africa began a second phase on the 1st of January 2014, and is scheduled to end in December 2018. Issues or gaps which were not addressed in the first phase are the focus of the present phase.
Farmers are being introduced to new technologies through several approaches such demonstrations farms, adaptation farms, farmer field days, radio programmes and video shows.
URBANET also ensures access to inputs and last mile delivery of the project by linking farmers to seed companies in Tamale (Heritage Seeds Company Limited) and facilitating community seed production. Facilitation of linkages between farmers and input distributors allows for improved access to legume inputs by providing farmers with contacts of input dealers.
Another key objective of the project is ensuring farmers have access to market output. URBANET conducts producer group trainings on grain quality and market standard to familiarize farmers with the quality the market desires. URBANET also facilitates marketing of farmer produce through farmers’ collective marketing by linking farmers to specific buyers/processors.
As part of the project, URBANET dedicates considerable energy and resources ensuring that farm work burdens are reduced for women. This is achieved by identifying and evaluating simple labour-saving tools with women farmers, as well as encouraging tractor service providers to buy and provide services to women.
In this phase, URBANET is focused on dissemination of legumes technologies to farmers in Savelugu, Karaga and Kumbungu districts of the Northern Region of Ghana.
The 2SCALE project is the largest agribusiness incubator in Africa, working with farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs in 12 countries. The project builds networks that connect farmers, buyers and intermediaries, enabling them to create and grow new businesses. The project mobilizes and trains groups of farmers and creates the necessary linkages to ensure that all elements: technology, organizational capacity, market access, credit and extension advice are in place. The desired result is an Agribusiness cluster and commercial value chains that can compete effectively in the market, benefiting producers, consumers, and everyone. Private sector firms are supported by the project to find business opportunities for sourcing products from or selling agro-inputs to smallholder farmers in Africa.
URBANET has been working with the International Fertilizer Development Center on the project in the Savelugu/Nanton municipality since 2013. As a business support services provider, URBANET provides business support services to two clusters: the Libga Chilli Pepper Cluster and the Savelugu Soybean Cluster.
URBANET in collaboration with ActionAid Ghana has since 2006 partnered to support smallholder farmers advocate for conducive agriculture policy environment, access to extension services and productive resources and for the promotion of climate resilient and sustainable agriculture. This resulted in a wide range of programme interventions including the Agriculture Extension Support project.
This is a two year project that identified 31 community level volunteers from 31 communities in the northern region engaged in livestock farming and trained them as Animal Health Workers to support their communities in basic animal husbandry such as de-worming of animals, washing of wounds, castration of animals and serving as a link between the Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in reporting cases of animal diseases, and mobilizing farmers for national vaccination exercises. The project is funded by ActionAid Ghana with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture serving as the main collaborator in the implementation.
URBANET in collaboration with ActionAid Ghana initiated a project to promote urban and peri-urban vulnerable farmers access to land for farming. The project was preceded with a research, community level sensitization, dialogue meetings with stakeholders (chiefs/land owners, planning authorities) and culminated in a project dubbed: zoning of agricultural lands/green belts. The project has since facilitated the zoning of about 475 acres of land in urban and peri-urban Tamale to be reserved purposely for agriculture especially to support women engaged in vegetable farming as their main source of livelihoods.
URBANET established a micro-finance and livelihood security programme dubbed: livelihood empowerment credit scheme in 2007 with funding support by ActionAid Ghana in the northern region of Ghana to help address the gap of inadequate access by the poor but economically active groups especially women and youth in the region.
The aim is to improve on income and livelihood security of the poor but economically active groups of people in the region especially women and youth.
1. To provide micro credit to small and micro business ventures in the region
2. To stimulate small enterprise development and create jobs for the youth
3. To provide entrepreneurship training for small scale entrepreneurs to enhance their growth and development
4. To inculcate the habit of savings in all our clients