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Feeding Northern Ghana with Fonio

To build a well nourished,healthy and productive community by 2050

Photo of Abdulai Dasana Andani
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

AMAATI Company Limited is a privately registered limited liability company. It has collaboration with other private,NGO’s, Government Institutions and other stakeholders in its pursuit to make Fonio a household name and to improve nutrition globally,Some of these stakeholders and the type of collaboration are; NO Name of Partner Type of Collaboration 1 RAINS A Local NGO with Women Farmers have been partnered to cultivate Fonio 2 SEND Ghana An NGO with Women Farmers have been partnered to cultivate Fonio 4 Kundok Development Consult(KDC) Agronomic Specialist Firm who carry out demonstrations and other research developments on Agronomic practices and also carry out trainings on Climate Smart Agriculture. 5 Tibzaa Farms Tractor/Equipment Service Provider & Post Harvest Management Training Specialists 6 Ghana Standards Authority Test Samples for Fonio produced to meet acceptable international safety standards 7 Food and Drugs Authority Test Samples

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Northern Ghana is made up of Five Regions and covers a total land area of 97,705km2. It is located in the Savannah Zones of Ghana

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Growing up in a rural community, I saw at first hand the plight of people living in rural savannah. We usually could eat at least three times a day immediately after harvest and after three to four months, only families who were considered rich could still feed their families for at most thrice a day. These people were about 5% of the population in my village. The rest could feed twice or even ones. This was the time the vast majority of the land was fertile, and families could harvest about 50 bags of maize and millet on five acres to sell for income and consumption for a  year. Now the vast majority of the land is becoming degraded, and families can hardly make 20 bags of maize or millet from the same 5 acres. The more reason to select this place is that climate change is making it worse.

In Northern Ghana 70-80% of the population lives in rural areas, in some areas upwards of 88% of households depends on agriculture as their primary livelihood activity (WFP, 2012). Meanwhile 59% of the people living in Northern Ghana are food insecure (WFP, 2009). The increased degraded nature of our soil and the increased rural poor dependence on our natural resources for livelihoods is becoming a threat to our food system and needs to be highly prioritised. The most challenging part is that women are left out as a result of culture/tradition.

As a native I want to see a community free of hunger, malnutrition and poverty. It’s therefore a mission to set up a food system that is sustainable to benefit this generation and future generations to come.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

We have 5 different regions making up the Northern sector of Ghana and we speak about 25 different languages. Because most are descendants from one lineage, we are very similar in the food we eat, our festivals, culture and tradition. Our main staple is “Tuo Zaafi” made up of millet, sorghum and maize flour. Each flour used depends on the tribe and region. We have vast land where we produce our main staples (Maize, Millet. Rice Sorghum). Even though the region is religious in nature, most decisions taken are based on culture and tradition.

The Northern part of Ghana has one rainy season, ideally from April to September, but now because of climate reasons rains fall between June and November. It a semi-arid area where rains are brief and highly unpredictable.

We are basically small scale farmers in the region growing maize, millet, sorghum. Others are vegetables (alefu (ammarantus), tomato, egg-plant etc) especially during the dry seasons where farmers use dams and dug-out to irrigate the crops. Traditionally men are the land owners and women are labourers. WFP reported in 2012 that female‐headed households were more likely to be food insecure than male‐headed households (30% versus15%) as a result of limited access to land, education and skills training. The average earners live in the city and mostly are government workers and the poor and low income earners are living in the rural areas who are mostly small scale farmers.

The food we eat are mostly grain /cereals. Our vulnerability is largely due to dependence on the production of crops that are sensitive to climate change, including maize, millet, rice and Sorghum and by a lack of agricultural diversification. Also increase reliance on rain fed agriculture has made us more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Families in these regions are hoping to become food secure. To produce enough for their families and make decent incomes that are sustainable for themselves and their children. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Land degradation is an economic, social and environmental threat to rural Savannah. Ghana had 35% of its land under threat of desertification especially Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions since the 1960s and 1970s and recently in the eastern region of the country. Land degradation in Northern Ghana has rendered large tracts of crop lands which were once fertile currently unproductive as such contributing to depleting income and food sources (UNUINRA 2017). Inability to balance our diet as a result of food scarcity has resulted into hunger and malnutrition. Women play a very key role in the agriculture sector in Northern Ghana, however their lack of access to land and other natural resources due to culture is hampering their participation, and this is contributing to the high food insecurity in the area. There is also an increase in migration because of limited economic livelihood options in the area. The majority of the people livelihood depends on agriculture and 90% of these people are small scale farmers who cannot overcome the cost of climate change through technology. One of the government policies to drive agriculture development in the area was “Planting for food and Jobs” but by the lack of market access in the policy many farmers were demotivated to produce even though there were subsidised fertilizers. By 2050 the vast majority of the land will be degraded and this will have direct impact on the main livelihoods of the people. There will be increased population which will triple the control and use of land and other resources. Women will be left out and this will increase the gap of women involvement in agriculture. The implication of these, will be extreme hunger and poverty, acute malnutrition and diseases. Women and children particularly will be more vulnerable to these extremities. Anaemia will increase in pregnant women resulting in a high maternal mortality rate which will result in an increase in malnourished children born with nutrition related health challenges. There will be a lot of death of children under 5 years of age resulting from health complications resulting from less nutritious foods available and fed to these children. As a result of the unavailability of healthy food options we will have a less productive society who will mostly be absent from work because of health related illnesses. Also, we will have a lot more people migrating to cities to seek non- existence greener pastures which will worsen the plight and living conditions of these people mostly youth

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

AMAATI is the first and currently the only company in Ghana that has identified marketable indigenous cereals that can be revived and promoted to benefit the most vulnerable in society.

We are nourishing Ghana starting from soil up. We believe that sustainable food production depends heavily on the soil and as such we promote the production of Fonio in northern Ghana by organizing vulnerable rural women to grow Fonio on community degraded lands. The farmers received all the services required to produce Fonio through our KUM application. These services include credit to plough and buy seeds, climate smart tips, best agronomic tips, market information and pricing. All the services are paid back in kind. AMAATI buys the surplus at guarantee market prices at farm gate.

AMAATI mobilized vulnerable rural women in high food insecure areas to grow Fonio. They are formed into groups and registered on the platform to receive the necessary support. AMAATI also undertake training and demonstrations to increase farmers’ capacity to produce and increased Fonio yields. Fonio cultivated on poor soils can be regenerated after two-three years because of its firm ground cover to stop erosion and its nature to bring fertile soil from the bottom up. Women grow other food crops after two to three production cycle. A unique value chain approach for adaptation to agriculture.

Fonio is an adaptable, hardy grain that is resilient to droughts, rich in nutrients and protein, and that can be a major part of one’s diet, especially during food shortages (Wageningen University, 2012). It matures in 8 weeks and withstand a wide range of weather conditions. As this innovation grows more farmers will diversify. Crop diversification is a key strategy for resilience to climate change. We focus more on sustainable agriculture and livelihoods which ensures long term agricultural activities as well as healthy agro-ecosystems with minimal inputs for crop productivity. The innovation is more scalable as it provides a sustainable and locally viable option for a rural populace.

Our business model is to transform degraded lands in arable agricultural lands for landless women, ensuring food security to the poor, providing employment to women, ensuring sustainable income and transferring simple technology for sustainable livelihood.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Northern Ghana with an estimated population of 3.5million covers five(5) regions in Ghana. The people who live in this part of Ghana are predominantly small scale farmers who the introduction of Fonio cultivation will now diversify the crops they cultivate, this diversification is a way of curbing or reducing the impact Climate change will have on crops they grow. The farmers will now require less inputs for farming as Fonio do not require Fertilizer or weedicides to grow which will improve their income levels as they will have more disposable incomes which hitherto have been used to buy farm inputs.

Also, after the cultivation of Fonio for two consecutive years the lands can be used to cultivate other crops as a result of the regenerative nature of Fonio, this will increase the fertile lands these farmers will have access to as they will not have to plough virgin lands to cultivate other crops which will reduce their cost in farming. 

AMAATI serves as market for Fonio and buys it at farm gate from these farmers which reduces the stress they would have gone through to look for buyers and the cost they would have incurred to transport produce to markets for potential buyers to buy, the KUM application also aids these farmers get market for their other produce cultivated apart from Fonio.

Communities have started farming an otherwise extinct,nutritious and abandoned crop, which they have started consuming themselves as date gathered by AMAATI indicates they consume almost 70% of the Fonio they cultivate which will improve their nutrition and that of their families which will in the long run improve malnutrition and hunger defects we have in these communities.

AMAATI is creating awareness on Fonio consumption and getting a larger populace buy into the consumption of this nutritious, health Fonio. This will improve the hunger, malnutrition and diets of Northern Ghana as these areas in the country have worse figures when it comes to Diets.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Through AMAATI’s intervention by 2050 80% of Farmers from all 47 districts in Northern Ghana will be cultivating Fonio. Where an average household size of 7.7 person's feed on 70% of the healthy,Nutritious Fonio cultivated and retained. This will improve the dietary, hunger and malnutrition status of the catchment area.

Also, as a result of the regenerative nature of Fonio, farms lands in Northern Ghana will be able to support the cultivation of other food and cash crops, this will not only improve the income levels from the cultivating of Fonio but also help farmers diversify into the cultivating other crops as diversification is a key strategy for resilience to Climate Change. Fonio is grown without fertilizer/pesticides/weedicide.By 2050 AMAATI would have avoided the use of over 7000ton of chemical fertilizer

Through AMAATI’s partnership with feeding institutions, Fonio will have created generational eaters of Fonio and this will aid improve the nutritional health of citizenry and improve productivity as we will have more healthy workers. We will have training institutions feeding Fonio to their students, we will have hospitals feeding Fonio to their staff and patients, we will have private organizations feeding their staff with Fonio, we will have mining and mining related companies feeding Fonio to their staff. We will have Fonio available in all leading retails outlets in the entire northern regions and it will be a preferred alternate to rice. This will present a populace which is healthy and well fed.

Through collaborations with other state agencies there will be a policy in place for schools and hospitals to feed students with Fonio related meals because of its nutritious and healthy nature, this will get all second cycle institutions, Public Hospitals, health and teacher training institutions all binding by policy to feed students and patrons with Fonio.

There will be varied DIM Fonio products on the shelves of retail outlets to meet the varied customer needs and varied tastes. These products will include instant Fonio mixes for students and busy patrons of the Fonio product who will want to grab a quick cup of Fonio from a busy schedule and a mixture of Fonio with other nutritious indegenous fruits/food to come out with a varied products.

Through the AMAATI Kum application software rural Fonio farmers will have at first hand best agronomic practices, timing and availability of ploughing services, markets for other food produce they cultivate. There will also be buying centers across all regions to serve as a buffer to clean the the Fonio that moves from the fields/farms to the processing centers. There will be processing plants available at all regions to do the initial processing of Fonio before it gets to the main factory.  

There will be a 500ton capacity warehouse available in all district buying centers which will serve as the first point for Fonio from the fields to meet the required requirements for processing.

There shall be a Fonio product Fair yearly in all Fonio districts to exhibit Fonio related products and the whole Fonio value chain shall be exhibited for stakeholders and consumers

There will also be a Fonio harvester which will be used to harvest,pick,thrash and bag Fonio ready for processing, this will reduce the sand,stones and labour intensiveness required for the harvesting of Fonio. There will as well be automated Fonio washers which will improve the efficiency and reduce timelines in processing of Fonio to meet increasing Orders.

Also as a result of the nutritious and versatile nature of Fonio the husk and chaff after milling is used for animal and poultry feed respectively which ensures there is a complete usage of every aspect of the Fonio plant.

Fonio serves as the main food during festivals among Chorkosi’s in Northern Ghana and as such families from this ethnic groups will always have at least a bowl of Fonio for this festive period and also for a bereaved spouse who has lost a loved one. This is done to make sure even though the bereaved is not eating as a result of the lost the small that will be taken in will meet the dietary and health requirements. This is the way Chockosi’s leave and it will laudablely be replicated among other cultures progressively as we head into the future to curb a lot of health and dietary challenges emanating from the communities as there is a proven record for the nutritional facts of Fonio and its positive impact on the food system going into 2050 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Emmanuel Dzisi

Hi there, I am applying from the Volta Region. It would be great to collaborate with you. I also work with rural communities and some of the challenges are similar. Good luck with your application.

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