The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in response to Ghana Government’s Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) and the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP), formulated the Agricultural Services Sub-Sector Investment Project (AgSSIP) as a means of facilitating agricultural growth and development.
AgSSIP is a nine-year program divided into three phases of three years each with lending from the World Bank. The overall objective of AgSSIP is to increase the growth of agricultural productivity and incomes as the driving force for reducing rural poverty and improving food security, among others.
The development of Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) is one of the components of the Agricultural Services Sub-Sector Investment Program being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA). The overall objective of this component is to develop a grassroot independent movement of FBOs that is led and run by the farmers themselves. There are five sub-components of the FBO development component, namely:
- Development of a conducive policy and regulatory framework that can facilitate activities of FBOs
- Strengthening the capacity of Agencies promoting the development of FBOs
- Direct development of FBOs
- Upgrading the capacity of the Co-operative College as an institution capable of providing training for FBO leaders and manager
- Establishment of an FBO Development Fund to provide matching grants for projects identified by and formulated by FBOs themselves.
The specific objectives of the FBO component of AgSSIP are:
- To make extension services available to groups of farmers rather than individuals for more cost-effective and rapid diffusion of appropriate technology;
- To strengthen the capacities of FBOs to play an enhanced role in priority setting and decision making in agricultural and community development programs;
- To facilitate access to inputs, credit and markets.
By the end of AgSSIP Phase 1, it is expected that the FBO component will:
- Make a good start in developing a grassroot movement of FBOs that will evolve into regional and national level institutional structures, which are led and run by farmers themselves.
- Empower farmers to bargain effectively in the market place and be part of the decision making process of agricultural and rural development.
- Strengthen the capacity of the FBOs effectively at various levels
- Make a substantial headway in resolving the problem that smallholder farmers face in accessing extension services, input supply, credit, and markets for their products.
- Facilitate the dissemination of information on agricultural and other relevant technologies and environmentally friendly farming practices.
- Facilitate the development of FBOs that are capable of taking up some aspects of extension activities for their members
Since 2002 there has being an appreciable effort at forming and nurturing FBOs in the Northern Region. At present there are six hundred and twenty-one (621) FBOs spread over all the twenty Districts.The report seeks to potray the status of FBOs in the Northern Region as at 15th January 2010.
NUMBERS AND MEMBERSHIP
There are 621 identifiable FBOs in the Northern Region.Total number of FBOs in a District ranges from 6 in Bole District to 139 in Savelugu//Nanton District with an average membership of 27 farmers in a group. Females form 48% of the total number of farmers of the entire FBO membership.This is presented in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Membership of FBOs in Northern Region
|Total No of farmers in groups||Average No of farmers per group||No of Males||% of Males||No of Females||% of Females|
NUMBER OF FBOs ENGAGED IN ENTERPRISES
Table 2 shows that 73% of the FBOs are engaged in crop enterprises followed by 43% livestock,13% processing and 5% marketing.
Table 2 Number of FBOs engaged in enterprises
BANK ACCOUNT AND CONSTITUTION
Five hundred and seventy (570 ) FBOs representing 92% of the total number of FBOs have Bank accounts while 194 FBOs representing 31% of the total number of FBOs have constitution and bye-laws. The very low number of FBOs with written constitution may be attributed to the high illiteracy rate among farmers in the Region
PERFORMANCE OF FBO’s IN NORTHERN REGION
The following comments can be made about the situation of FBOs in Northern Region.
- In districts where MiDA is operating, MOFA staff members appeared to focus on the MiDA FBOs to the detriment of older FBOs that were in operation before MiDA. Under MiDA, two or more older FBOs with membership of between 10-25 had been put together. MOFA staff confirmed that MiDA initially preferred to work with FBOs with total membership of 50 and more.
- The requirements of banks and other supporting organizations in some cases affect the structure and functioning of some groups. At Nyohini in the Tamale metropolis, for example, a cohesive and well functioning group of 50 female members was divided into two groups of 25 members each to meet a membership requirement to access an Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) loan. They however still operate under the same department of cooperative’s registration certificate and name and hold meetings together on issues not related to ADB.
From the above observations it is clear that there is need for common agreement between development workers on the lower and upper limits of membership and numbers of FBOs.
- There is barely no formal interaction between different FBOs even in the same locality, thus, groups and their members seem not to be aware of any need to form secondary FBOs.
- There are many FBOs in several districts that have been formed primarily to enable members to obtain loans and /or other forms of support from government and other agencies. When the loans or assistance is not forthcoming they disintegrate and only exist by name.
- It seems several NGOs have agricultural/agribusiness FBOs which are not known by the district directorates of agriculture. Agricultural Stations under the umbrella of the Association of Church Development Projects (ACDEP) have however registered their FBOs with MOFA. There is need for all NGOs to have their agriculture-based FBOs registered with MOFA so that they will be part of the data base.
The future is bright for FBO development in the Northern Region. What is needed is to build the capacity of MOFA and NGO staff to sensitize and build capacity of FBO members to function properly in their core businesses.
FBO ASSESSMENT TOOLS