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A new project to be implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Department of Agriculture will boost productivity of smallholder maize farmers, reduce post-harvest losses, improve access to markets and provide better financial resources.

Mr. Dennis Abugri Amenga, the Bono Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, announced that the ABinBev project aims at improving the livelihoods and incomes of approximately 2,100 smallholder maize farmers in Ashanti, Bono, and Upper West regions to supply 5,500 metric tons of maize.

The one-year pilot project which began in July 2023 and set to end in June 2024 was being implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP), the Department of Agriculture with support funding from Accra Brewery Limited.

He indicated that the project would create a conducive environment for the supply of high-quality maize and address the challenges that hinder the meaningful participation of women in the agricultural sector.

Mr. Amenga made this known during his address to farmers and input dealers at a stakeholder meeting to sensitize them about the project in Sunyani.

It also seeks to enhance productivity by implementing good agricultural practices (GAPs) and utilizing advanced technologies, train farmers on post-harvest loss management to minimize losses and enhance the quality of grains, he said.

Additionally, the project would facilitate access to affordable financial and insurance services to encourage the adoption of new technologies, services, and management practices, access to structured markets, promote trade, and increase income and investment in the agricultural sector.

Mr. Amenga highlighted that his department was collaborating with the WFP on the Agribusiness for Youth Employment Project (AgYE), which generate employment opportunities and combat youth unemployment in Ghana, with focus on empowering young women.

He emphasized that the AgYE project aligned seamlessly with the objectives of the AbinBev project, as both initiatives shared a common goal of reducing post-harvest losses among smallholder farmers, enhancing food safety and quality standards across six targeted commodity value chains, building the capacity of farmers, and providing access to structured markets to improve livelihoods.

Highlighting the anticipated outcomes of the project, Mr. Albert Akafari, Programme Policy Officer at WFP, explained that the project would increase the current yield of approximately 1.5 to 1.8 Metric tons per hectare to a range of 4.0 to 6.0 Metric tons per hectare.

He said it would also enhance smallholder farmers’ access to formal and reliable markets, resulting in increased household incomes for farmers through guaranteed market prices, adoption of improved agronomic practices, and utilization of advanced post-harvest technologies, while providing female and youth smallholder farmers with access to financial resources and market information.

Mr. Steven Odarteifio, Head of the Food System at the World Food Programme (WFP) in Ghana, emphasized the organization’s commitment to supporting smallholder farmers, saying these farmers, in their small ways, are crucial contributors to development through their businesses, indicating to ensure the sustainability of this production cycle, strategic partnerships with companies like AbinBev were essential.

He pointed out the major economic losses due to post-harvest issues, estimating a staggering $1.9 billion lost annually, saying by intervening and impacting 2,100 farmers, the project has the potential to inject GHc 11 million into the economy, by supporting farmers with quality equipment to increase production and ensure better prices for them.

Mr. Solomon Ayiah, Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Accra Brewery PLC, emphasized that with the government’s tax waiver for companies utilizing local materials, Accra Brewery was dedicated to maximizing the benefits of this incentive by increasing the use of local raw materials since maize was a crucial raw material required for the production of Club Beer.

Madam Emelia Serwaa, a participant and farmer from Wenchi, was hopeful that the project would greatly benefit farmers by enhancing their farming practices, leading to increased production and provide farmers with a readily available market which would improve their livelihoods.

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