TIPCEE Makes Waves Up North
2009-10-24 10:16:38This article has been read 1010 times.The Trade and Investment Program for a Competitive Export Economy (TIPCEE), a sponsored program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has made waves in the Northern sector of the country over the last three years, changing the lives of farmers through human resource and economic empowerment.
By a collaborated effort, TIPCEE has trained over 5,000 cashew farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), 3,000 more in practical norms and standards, while 31 demonstration sites have been established with drip irrigation systems, all in an effort to improve and increase yields.
Some 52,000 farmers have gained expertise in Good Agricultural Practices.
In the mango sector, TIPCEE has certified over 300 farmers with GLOBALGAP certifications, a minimum standards practice required to access the International market with products.
These, among other interventions by TIPCEE, have resulted in annual turnovers amounting to thousands of Ghana Cedis in the pockets of both farmers and processors in the country's Agribusiness sector.
A review meeting at Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, with sector players from the northern part of Ghana, revealed that though the TIPCEE started its operations in the last three years, the impacts are visible from the testimonies of farmers and processors in the agri-business.
Unveiling EU market opportunities to cashew farmers, the Market Leader with TIPCEE, Mr. Roland Adade, observed that consumption of cashew had inched up strongly around the world because of the good health and taste the crop is associated with.
This makes the US, the largest single importer of 85,000 metric tonnes of cashew per annum.
There has also been a rise in cashew nuts consumption in Europe, from 25,000 to 54,000 tonnes over the last decade, with a cumulative annual growth of nine point five percent. Currently, India is the largest supplier of cashew to the European markets, followed by Vietnam and Brazil, while the Netherlands is the single largest market in Europe.
He noted that it was statistically evident that India imports more than 90 percent of Ghana's hundred metric tonnes per annum of raw cashew nuts, because they were mainly brokers who re-export them.
Meanwhile, Mr. Adade has called on the government to issue a policy directive, banning the export of raw cashew, just like Mozambique, since the policy benefits the farmer.
TIPCEE's Horticultural Specialist, Mr. Stephen Awiti-Kuffour, said interventions rolled out had affected stakeholders positively.
These include the development of training materials to enhance the strength of about 4,000 farmers and agents in nut grading.
Over 100 Ministry of Food Agriculture staff have also received training.
They have in turn trained more farmers, leading to about 20,000 acreages of land cashew cultivation.
Likewise, vegetables, maize and soya have also made headways in the agribusiness sector of the economy.
There are opportunities available for chilies in the EU markets.
The main suppliers of the commodity are Morocco, Ghana, the Dominican Republic and Kenya, which face stiff competition in exporting to countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.
Onion exports from Ghana increased, from close to 900 metric tonnes in 2004, to about 3,000 metric tonnes in 2008.
Onion varieties include Bawku Red, Red Creole, and Texas Grano, with a recent venture in Violet de Galmi, all through the efforts of the TIPCEE.
Maize and Soya are other commodities that the TIPCEE has helped "revolutionarise" in the northern part of the country, making cereal consumption safer.
Together with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and other collaborators, the TIPCEE has established a Mycotoxin laboratory at KNUST to test the aflatoxin content levels, and to reduce the chemical content to consumable levels, safe for human health.
The TIPCEE has also collaborated with other public-private institutions to institute Sheller Technology Transfer, to be adopted by farmers, to help shell grains mechanically and in record time.
Mango is another booming commodity in the northern sector, and by the TIPCEE's intervention, Ghana's mango exports rose from 179 metric tonnes in 2004 to 1,098 metric tonnes in 2008.
TIPCEE has also improved fruit quality to meet international standards and demand by training almost 300 Mango farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). These include pruning, spraying, harvesting and packaging using plastic crates to minimize post harvest loses.
Ghana contributes a whopping average of 1,098 metric tons out of the annual 226,731 tons of mango imports into the EU market. Ghana is fiercely competing for the export market with Israel, Cote D'Ivoire, and Peru with Brazil leading with an annual export of about 99,500 tons of fresh and processed mango.
The local market is dominated by middle men, wholesalers, retailers, exporters and supermarkets paying the premium value to farmers. This trend, like the export market is largely influenced by variables like attractive fruit color, freshness, firmness, good size and varieties.
Fortunately for the mango farmers, much has been echoed about local produce through the establishment of the "Ghana Fresh Produce" brand which is selling Ghanaian fresh and processed products abroad.
However, players in the agri-business sector of Ghana's economy have reason to hope for making waves by USAID's TIPCEE intervention for the past five years.
At a review meeting with pineapple farmers and producers, a Market leader at TIPCEE Mr. Roland Adade cited market intelligence research, market linkage, and branding all Ghanaian products under the "Ghana Fresh Produce" brand name, which promise quality to the EU consumer.
The TIPCEE has also collaborated with the Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), to export pineapples by sea-freight for the first time, which has proved cost-effective, due to the volumes, and reliability assurance.