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Ekua Pa Project: Optimizing Potential of Rural Small-holder Farmers for Improved Livelihoods

Ekua Pa is designed to provide end-to-end services, increased economy of scale and a ready market access to optimize farming potential

Photo of Kofi Borti
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Project Overview Ekua Pa has been developed by the ThinkAfrik Company Ltd., a fully owned Ghanaian Socio-Impact Investment company with the intention to transform subsistence farmers into commercial growers. By harnessing the largely untapped power of smallholders—increasing their yields, rebuilding supply chains, and opening access to economies of scale. Ekua Pa will train rural smallholder farmers, offer them loans, then deliver farming inputs (seed and fertilizers) directly to the farms on credit; district managers track production and dispense technical advice throughout the season. Those who sign up are put into smaller groups with team leads and receive training in business and agronomy, access to credit, and inputs, including soil analysis, seeds, fertilisers and crop protection products. At harvest, Ekua Pa will provide transportation and storage services. Ekua Pa warehouses the grain at the end of the process, commoditizes it, and intends to sell it to food conglomerates and export markets. Ekua Pa then pays the farmers via a quarterly dividend payment. Improving farming conditions also require some upfront capital, and because many smallholders don't have clear title to their land—and therefore no collateral—banks are loath to lend them the funds they need. Grouping farmers in small teams led by a trusted peer is an efficient way of organizing the group and making it easier to dispense and track capital support.

WHO BENEFITS?

The Ekua Pa project targets diligent rural small-holder farmers, piloting with 256 farmers registered in March 2016 registered in two rural communities in Ghana. The project targets Cassava, Maize and Cashew farmers with Cassava farmers being the main target group for the pilot year. Cassava and Maize farmers were chosen because they form the majority of staple food in Africa and the increasing export demand for starch products provides an increased economic benefit as well to the farmers.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

The project is being piloted in two rural farming locations in Ghana i.e Ayensuano West and Kwahu West Municipalities.

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for less than one year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for one year or less.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

http://thinkafrik.com/ is a socio-impact investing start-up which was first established as an idea to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to Africa’s problems through providing social enterprising instruments and social investment services streamlined towards empowering rural African lives.

Ekua Pa is a support system project designed to help diligent rural farmers by providing training on improved agricultural techniques, cash and "in-kind" loans of farming inputs,  end-to-end services, increased economy of scale and a ready market access to optimize potential productivity. The answer to feeding Ghana—and once that's accomplished, helping to feed the world—lies in finding ways to transform subsistence farmers into entrepreneurs. The global population is hurtling toward 9 billion by 2050, according to the World Bank, and feeding all those people will require a 70 percent increase in agricultural productivity. The existing system of multinational megafarms won't be enough—the hope for the future lies not in mass production, but in production by the masses. The Ekua Pa project is intended to transform subsistence farmers into commercial growers. By harnessing the largely untapped power of smallholders—increasing their yields, rebuilding supply chains, and opening access to economies of scale. 

Summary

  • Ekua Pa trains farmers, and offers “in-kind” loans for inputs
  • Ekua Pa pools all crops in central warehouse and commoditizes them
  • Group structure provides economies of scale in obtaining input and credit and stronger market power

 Innovative Approach

  • Members placed into groups of 5 or 10, each group with its own Trusted Leader
  • When crops are sold, members will be paid a quarterly dividend
  • Direct deposit to the account of the Trusted Leader, who disseminates the cash to the other members of his group

Impact – Theory of Change

  • Our target is to increase their yields of members up to 2.1x the national average
  • Average income of Ekua Pa members to increase up to 3.0x national average of cassava and maize farmers
  • Farmers can get loans much cheaper than they would by themselves
  • 256 farmers registered and given membership identification cards in March this year ( pilot year ) in Ayensuano West and Kwahu West Municipalities

Key Points from Initial Project Surveys

  • Grouping farmers in small teams led by a trusted peer is an efficient way of organizing the group
  • Supply chains can be rebuilt through well-targeted interventions
  • Partnerships are important to drive maximum benefits to smallholder farmers

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Spam
Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Kofi and Ekua Pa,
Great idea except for "pooling all crops in central warehouse and commoditize them" will introduce middlemen, technocrats and institutions in the supply and value chain.
The scale required to store large amounts of surplus food grain compel AID production packages to implement stationary “collection silos/shed, reserve and distribution centers” that are managed by institutions. Typical institutional Grain Distribution Logistics and Infrastructure (GDLI) stores the average local harvest, but average harvest amounts are rare because of weather and/or crop pests and so GDLI is idle or overflowing. Transporting harvest to distant GDLI reduces the net benefits. If institutions do not scale and, for example accomplish cumbersome “periodic rotations” (SAWBO, 2015) to monitor stacked sacks, they soon "become rusting monuments to inappropriate technology transfer. None of the other institutional storage facilities owned by MoFA, FASCOM, CMB, Action AID or others were being used” (Armah, 2006).

Development production packages reduce the risk of inappropriate GDLI with warehouse receipt systems (WRS). However “WRS are typically multimillion projects [institutions] that do not work, as the marketing environment is not sufficiently developed to support them. Even if they did work [after support ends], they [WRS] would not help smallholders, which they are often claimed to do" (Ferris, 2013).

Should we form a team to deliver Mobility for tenure-insecure agriculture is the “Right that creates incentives for technology adoption” (Easterly, 2015) and Step one to cost-effectively bridging gaps in yield that exist between standing crops, farm, transport and markets. Utility that is mobile gives growers incentives to invest in proper drying and storage practices when and where they need to scale operations for peace-of-mind”.
The current team would like to read your comments at <https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/agricultural-innovation/ideas/storage-to-reverse-grain-postharvest-loss>

Regards,
William

Spam
Photo of William Lanier
Team

Ok Kofi,
Ask why is a storage concept that is 25 years old, that MoFA has known about for 12 (Deyang and Johnson, AESD) not already in Northern Ghana?
It is not a Scientific reason.
However, until growers have incentives to invest in proper drying and storage practices when and where they need to scale operations for peace-of-mind” opportunistic traders and warehouse technocrats will get their protocol fees and services.
Test the idea and go to your local Premium Foods, ADVANCE, NRGP or MoFA warehouse and say you are going to lease a cost-effective warehouse on wheels to stop PHL and protocol for many small or a few large harvests and wait for the calls to start threatening your staff and funding source!
William

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