REPORT ON FBO training

     “National Alliance Capacity Building in Ghana”

                                                                               (MILESTONE 4)

  REPORT ON FARMER BASED CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMME PHASE II

KWABENG, ATIWA DISTRICT

13TH JANUARY, 2016

ACRONYMS

DAs                 District Assemblies

DCE                 District Chief Executive

DP                    Development Partner

ECOWAS          Economic Community of West African States

FAO                 Food and Agriculture Organization

FBO                 Farmer Based Organization

GOG                Government of Ghana

GPCAHM         Ghana Parliamentary Caucus against Hunger and Malnutrition

GHACCSUN      Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Scaling Up Nutrition

GHS                 Ghana Health Service

GSS                  Ghana Statistical Service

HAG                 Hunger Alliance of Ghana

MOH               Ministry of Health

MOFA              Ministry of Food and Agriculture

NAAP               National Alliance Partnership Programme

NDPC              National Development Planning Commission

SUN                 Scaling up Nutrition

WAAAHM       West African Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition

WIAD              Women in Agriculture Development

WFP                 World Food Programme (UN)

 

 

1.0 Introduction

In many African countries like Ghana, agriculture is dominated by smallholder farmers growing food for their own consumption with extra production sold on a small scale. These set of farmers produce crops using traditional methods and low resource technologies. In spite of their limitations, the smallholder farmers have contributed to the promotion of sustainable agriculture in Ghana. Food security has been galvanized by Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs).

FBOs serve effectively as the grassroots pillars of agriculture development in Ghana. In recognition of this fact, the Hunger Alliance of Ghana who has its membership consisting of mostly FBOs have built the capacities of its FBOs at the community level through the Farmer – based organizations Capacity Building Programme. The programme has covered ten (10) farmer based organizations currently and has benefited over 300 farmers already. The first phase of the project ended in June 2014. Hunger Alliance of Ghana worked with District Extension Officers and Agriculture Directorate from 2011-2012 to build the capacity of FBOs in four areas namely,

  • Extension training
  • Policy Advocacy
  • Office Secretariat management
  • Improved FBOs management practices

 

As a follow up to previous training workshops for FBOs, the Hunger Alliance of Ghana under the National Alliance Partnership Programme(NAPP) organized a second phase of the FBO training workshop to assess what has actually been achieved in terms of successes, challenges and opportunities and how the gap between the proposed and what was actually on the ground could be bridged. With a slight change of focus, emphasis of the training workshop was on FBO leadership, governance and administration.

 

 

  • Rational of the Training workshop

The capacity building workshop was aimed at equipping FBOs representatives with new farming models. The training workshop was also expected to enhance productivity and bring out vibrant FBOs working and sustaining their farming programmes.

 

  • Objectives of the workshop
  • To promote cross learning experiences and also provide opportunity for FBOs to access credit from local banks to expand their farms
  • To introduce new farming modules to farmers

 

  • Participants, Resource Person and Methodology

Participants included over 40 representatives from each of the beneficiary FBOs in Atiwa district, two Extension Officers from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, four HAG technical team members, and one resource person from the Atiwa Rural bank. The training workshop involved a welcome address by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture District Director and three power point presentations. Discussions, deliberations and suggestions followed. The training was participatory and interactive. The language used was twi which was widely spoken by the farmers for the purposes of understanding.

 

  • Proceedings

The Alliances’ technical team visited some of its members at an FBO office it established at Atiwa in 2011 before the commencement of the workshop. Most of the farmer’s expressed joy concerning the second phase of the FBO capacity building training workshop and waited in anticipation to hear of its benefits to them. Nana Ayim, Executive Director of the Alliance met the chairman of the Atiwa FBO exchanged pleasantries and proceeded to the venue to start the training.

                                Nana Ayim with some FBO members at the FBO secretariat

2.0 Chairman’s welcome address (Madam Akosua Brago, Atiwa district MOFA Director)

After a short opening prayer to commence the workshop at exactly 10:00am, a welcome address was given by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Director in the Atiwa district. She was happy about the Alliances’ efforts in the past to equip its Farmer Based Organizations in the district with the necessary skills to improve agriculture productivity whiles also contributing to Ghana’s food security in the larger context. She revealed that many at times, policy makers ignore the grassroots levels that in fact form the very foundation to the success of any policy implementation process. FBOs that form the grassroots foundation of Ghana’s agriculture should be very much involved with capacity building training opportunities from organizations like the Hunger Alliance of Ghana if Ghana’s food security agenda is to be achieved. She was certain that her agriculture extension officers had worked with farmers in the district over the years and had seen significant improvements because of the benefits of such training events to equip farmers on best practices in agriculture. She was optimistic about the phase 2 of the capacity building workshop being held by the Alliance in her district and encouraged participants especially the farmers to pay particular attention to the presentations that were to be made. She concluded by thanking the Alliance for their presence in their district and pledged the support of her directorate to the training process and beyond.

3.0 Introduction to FBOs capacity building workshop Phase II-(Nana Ayim Poakwah)

Nana Ayim, the Executive Director of the Hunger Alliance of Ghana introduced the Phase 2 of the FBO capacity building training workshop. He stated that indeed FBOS continue to play tremendous role in ensuring Ghana’s food security agenda. He reminded participants of the first phase of the capacity building training held in 2011, and the second phase was to assess the gains made so far to see how challenges encountered could be tackled moving forward. He reiterated the fact that agriculture was fast becoming nutrition sensitive and this called for innovative ways of farming by FBOs to also contribute to the growing phenomenon. He assured the FBos that the phase two of the training workshop was not only to build their capacity as farmers, but the Alliance was going to provide farm inputs for FBOs who need them to expand their farming. He wished them fruitful deliberations as the programme commenced.

4.0 Presentation on best farming modules for FBOs (Dr Noah Owusu-Takyi)

Presentation on best farming modules for FBOs was presented by Dr Noah Owusu-Takyi, a board member of the Alliance and also a Founding President of the Professional Farmers College and the Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture now Kumasi University College of Agriculture. Dr. Owusu-Takyi has offered training to farmers including farmer organizations and has done extensive research on model agriculture value chain systems that works for the small holder farmer for over 30 years. He expressed excitement about meeting the FBOs again for their second capacity building workshop. He said agriculture unknowingly was a huge investment which should be approached seriously as a business. He likened farming to professions like banking, nursing and teaching and there was the need to sustain agriculture with the same mindset for future generations. He said many at times the youth complain of unemployment but are unwilling to venture into agriculture because there were no standards set to make it look like the professions he had mentioned. The dream of the Hunger Alliance of Ghana was to make farming so attractive that one would require an application letter before being accepted to pursue the profession. In view of that, the Hunger Alliance of Ghana was making efforts to set standards in agriculture to make it a professional business, the reason for the workshop. Dr Takyi stated that in doing so, the Alliance is considering a number of measures to bring this to fruition. He outlined a couple of them.

  • The Alliance and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) shall hold discussions to start this new farming model in Atiwa district to serve as a module which shall be replicated in other districts.
  • Marketing of farm produce was a key area the Alliance was tackling because once there was no ready competitive market for farm produce; it affected the standards of agriculture outputs.
  • Dr Takyi stated strongly that hence forth farmers should register their farms in order to have a farm and district certificate. This could facilitate an individual farmer or even FBOs to open an account with a bank to access credit facilities.
  • A new concept called contract farming shall be introduced to the FBOs by the Hunger Alliance of Ghana where a final buyer of farm produce shall arrange with a particular famer to check key things like the quality of seedlings, farm inputs, irrigation before the actual farming commences. This would ensure output to be of high quality standard only to the specification of the buyer.
  • The Alliance together with the Atiwa district shall build an FBO market; this is where the standards shall begin based on the technical inputs given to the farmer even before planting. So if any farm produce does not qualify to be on the FBO market, it would encourage farmers to raise their standards based on best practices in order to get a ready market at the FBO market set up by the Alliance and the district.
  • The Alliance with a little funding plans to set up an FBO exhibition center in the Atiwa district where farmers can be supported to buy farm tools, manure etc which would be sold by farm dealers. The Alliance currently is in talks with corporate communication companies like TIGO and MTN to see how they could also support to build the exhibition centre as part of their corporate social responsibility.
  • The last but not the least was drilling of bore holes to enable farmers produce all year round without the over reliance on rainfall. Dr Takyi stressed that if bore holes are beyond governments’ budget, the Alliance was willing to help secure loans for that.

5.0 Discussion after the presentation

The FBOS were happy about the standardization of farming and embraced it as a step in the right direction. However some expressed worry as to how many could adhere to these standards since it had cost implications. Some of the farmers had challenges securing loans to purchase quality seeds to plant and asked how they could be helped in the whole standardization process.

  • Mr Kwesi Asante, a farmer at the district said most of the farmers including him rent farms for farming and did not own their farms. How was it possible to dig a borehole in somebody’s farm? He asked that was it possible to get litigation free farm lands for a long period of time as FBOs to enable them dig boreholes.
  • Dr Takyi answered saying that because of the standardization policy, individual farmers should join the larger farm groups to enable them acquire lands for a longer period of time. The policies to be put in place are such that if the land does not belong to an FBO, it does not qualify them for a borehole. He added that before venturing into farming, at least FBOs should site a land close to a water body since boreholes could be quite expensive.
  • Majority of the FBOs were satisfied with what was said and pleaded with the Alliance to provide the farming inputs as they have promised to.

6.0 Presentation on FBOs -Extension Officers relationship for improved farming productivity.  (Josephus Barnor, MOFA division, Atiwa)

Mr Barnor gave a presentation on the relationship between FBOs – Extension Officers for improved farming productivity. In his presentation, he said Agricultural Extension services existed in almost every country of the world because of its importance in increasing agricultural production. Extension provides ways to educate people who are engaged in farming and agricultural related activities on:

  • improving farming methods and techniques,
  • increase production efficiency and income,
  • bettering their level of living and
  • lifting the social & educational status of rural life

The main purpose of Agricultural extension was to help farmers to help themselves by assisting them to recognize and solve their problems.

IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION

  • Replacing the traditional methods of farming with more modern, scientific and better practices.
  • Farmers have to be exposed to them and trained in their proper use.
  • This is where the role of extension comes in. An effective Agricultural extension system plays the important roles in agricultural development as follows:

 

 

Conclusion

Involving both Agricultural Extension Officers and FBOs in Agribusiness is an essential part in:-

  1. technology transfer
  2. Increased Farm Output
  3. Increased income
  4. Increased standard of living

 

7.0 Presentation on FBOs leadership and governance (Samuel Kofi Dzisah, MOFA division, Atiwa).

FBOs leadership and governance was a very important presentation made at the training workshop. The presentation was delivered by Samuel Kofi Dzisah, an Extension Officer from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the Atiwa district and has been working with  FBOs for many years. He started with definitions and the importance of joining FBOs which was well received by the participants who were mostly famers.

FBOs and Leadership

Farmer Based Organization (FBOs) are basically described as a group of farmers with similar interest who come together to achieve a common goal or objective.

The farmers in FBOs have shared challenges and goals and thus come together with the view of solving the challenges and also enhance their chances of making reasonable profit.

Importance of joining an FBOs

Participating in FBO activities has several advantages key among which are.

  • Information (market and prices)
  • Technologies (production, processing)
  • Research (innovations- improved crop varieties and breeds of animals
  • Extension services ( crop management)
  • Finance
  • Certification
  • Reduction in operational costs

Why FBOs Fail

Aside the numerous importances, a good number of FBOs do not survive the test of time for the following reasons;

  • Poor management and leadership
  • Lack of clearly defined objectives for the group
  • Lack of commitment on the part of farmers to the guiding principles of the organization.
  • Low income benefits to members
  • Dissatisfaction with services provided by members
  • Failures to identify the group’s strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and take steps to build upon strengths and minimize threats.
  • Lack of resources
  • Low economic benefit to members
  • Poor communication within the group
  • When the group is too large to manage

 

TYPES OF FBO LEADERSHIP

Based on how leadership evolves in a group, two main types of leadership exist; assigned and Emergent

 

ASSIGNED

  • Assigned leadership is the appointment of people to formal positions of authority within an organization.
  • In FBOs, assigned leadership is obtained through a process of voting backed by the association’s working documents or constitution

EMERGENT LEADERSHIP

  • The exercise of leadership by a group member because of the manner in which other group members react to him or her.
  • Exhibited when others perceive a person to be a very influential member of the group although not elected.
  • Exercised when other people in the organization support, accept, and encourage that person’s behavior.
  • It is imperative for members of the group to give legal powers and backing to emergent leaders by subjecting them to a voting process

                                          

SUSTAINING THE GROUP

Several actions are required to sustain the FBOs; key among them is regular training sessions in areas such as

  • The objectives of the FBO
  • Constitution, bye-laws and code of conduct of the FBO
  • Inter and intra-group communication
  • Group dynamics and conflict resolution
  • Technical areas related to their enterprises as well as entrepreneurship

HOW TO SUSTAIN FBOS

To sustain FBOs to fulfill the purpose for which it was created, certain factors must be taken into consideration. Some of the factors include the following;

  • Members should have a sense of ownership.
  • Training or information given at meetings should be relevant to the needs of the farmers and seek to make them gain needed skills for effective productivity.
  • Members of the group should have a binding code of conduct.
  • Leadership structures should be clear to all members.

LEADERSHIP TRAINING

Leadership training is essential, as some leaders who are chosen to lead FBOs do not have the requisite knowledge to execute tasks assigned them, hence the need for regular training sessions for them. These training should place emphasis on the following areas;

  • Adult education principles
  • Group facilitation skills
  • Group dynamics and conflict management
  • Communication
  • Management of Farmer Based Organization (chairperson, secretary)
  • Lobbying and advocacy (chairperson)
  • Financial management (treasurer)

 

Mr Samuel Kofi Dzisah delivering his presentation

 

8.0 Presentation on micro credit facilities for FBOs in ATIWA (Credit Manager- Atiwa Rural Bank, Kwabeng)

A Credit Manager from the Atiwa district rural bank was given the opportunity to make a presentation on how FBOs could access credit facilities from the bank for farming. He started by giving a brief introduction on the role Micro Financial Institutions (MFIs) play generally;

  • MFIs provide financial services to low-income/poor households that lack access to banking and high quality financial services such as credit, savings, insurance and fund transfers.
  • MFIs also help poor people and improve financial systems of countries
  • The Impact of MFIs includes women empowerment, employment growth/opportunities and poverty alleviation.
  • MFIs aid the poor to access credit without collateral and to generate near full recovery rates through the win-win proposition.

He continued his presentation stating that, many at times famers are constantly denied credits facilities because of the high risk involved in dealing with individual famers. He stressed that forming FBOs is less risky to access loans to since there is strength in numbers. More often than not, they have had to chase monies given out to individual farmers who later cannot pay back because they operate alone without any group support. He encouraged participants to form FBOs to make them more credit worthy. He also supported the presentation made by Dr Takyi to standardize farming which shall include registering farm lands with the district and owning a farm certificate before the commencement of any farming activity. This initiative shall lower the credit liability risks of famers and encourage the bank to help FBOs access more loans for increased yield.

9.0 Closing remarks (Madam Akosua Brago(MRS),Atiwa district MOFA Director)

The Chairperson of the FBO training workshop was happy about the success of the dialogue and thanked participants for their enthusiasm and ideas. She encouraged the Alliance to do more to help farmers in her district and beyond. Advocacy should not be only at the policy level, the grass roots level has a fundamental role to play through such capacity building programmes. The workshop came to a close with a prayer by Mr John Agyekum, the Nigerian representative of the Hunger Alliance of Ghana at 12:30 pm after which a group picture was taken and departure of participants thereafter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                              PROGRAMME FOR THE FBO CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMME (ATIWA)

                                                                             PHASE II

                                                    Agenda

Time Activity Responsibility
10:00 am-10:10am Opening prayer and introduction of participants  
10:10am-10:15am Chairman’s welcome address Madam Akosua Brago(MRS),Atiwa district MOFA Director
10:15am-10.30am Introduction to FBOs capacity building workshop Phase II Nana Ayim Poakwah, Executive Director, Hunger Alliance of Ghana

 

10:30am-10:50 am Cocoa break  
10:50am-11:10am Presentation on best farming modules for FBOs Dr Noah -Takyi
11:10am-11:30am Questions and Answers Facilitator
11:30am-11:45am Presentation on FBOs -Extension Officers relationship for improved farming productivity. Josephus Barnor, MOFA division, Atiwa
11:45am-12:00 pm Presentation on FBOs leadership and governance Samuel Kofi Dzisah, MOFA division, Atiwa
12:00pm-12:10pm Presentation on micro credit facilities for FBOs  in ATIWA

 

Credit Manager- Atiwa Rural Bank, Kwabeng

 

12:10pm -12:30pm Open discussion/suggestions Participants
12:30pm Closing prayer and departure