Ostensibly frustrated over policy and integrity gaps afflicting development programmes between the two countries, including agriculture in the north, the United Kingdom (UK) Department of International Development (DFID), has descended into the SADA Belt, initiating a string of community programmes aimed at improving crop and livestock production in target communities in the Belt, particularly, the three northern regions.
For most indigenous families and producers, the initiative has come about as huge relief in the light of the public frustration over the failed SADA programme that lost an opportunity to create wealth and reduce poverty in the Northern Regions, particularly under the current administration.
Food security this year, however, is likely to improve around the whole nation as the initiative targets livestock, including Guinea Fowl, Cattle, Sheep and Goat, which DFID UK is funding through an agency under an entrepreneurial initiative.
The agency, Nathan Associates, “may run for 10 years, barring any political hitches,” according to a diplomatic source in Ghana connected to the deal.
In a document sighted by New Crusading GUIDE, the international development agency is also investing in cereals like Maize, Rice, Millet As Well As Vegetables, Including Chilies, Garden Eggs, Okra, Onions And Amaranth. Interestingly, DFID UK’s informal economy economic empowerment programmes have been avidly swallowed by next-door neighbor and competitor Burkina Faso, which is already light years ahead of Ghana in terms of agriculture and agribusiness.
The three Northern Regions which have over the years been known to thrive in the cultivation of livestock and crop, have previously attracted into the sector Northern elite, including indigenous elite technocrats and bureaucrats as well as personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces, our investigations further revealed.
In spite of the fact of the three Northern Regions being the nation’s cereal and vegetable breadbasket, agriculture has in the last 15 years deteriorated in the three Northern Regions, particularly in the Tono, Vea and Pwalugu production sites in the Upper East, in which successive governments, including the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and late General IK Acheampong administrations in Ghana, hugely invested over the years.
Partnering DFID UK is a string of value chain informal economy actors, including input dealers, grains, cereals and vegetable buyers from the south as well as cargo transporters – all of whom have signed MOUs with the development agency.
Farm-based organization sources in Bongo in the Upper East and civil society youth groups in Tamale have confirmed the report, saying the programme began over two years ago with a DFID UK facilitated media awareness campaign among players and actors in partnership with local FM stations.
The media campaigns, The New Crusading GUIDE gathered, highlighted the need for commitment among producers and buyers in boosting production and incomes among players, as well as impacting communities and the nation as a consequence. It also highlighted the need on the part of producers “for producing for a known and existing market.”
It was also intended, according to our sources, to help not only to mitigate the dehumanizing levels of poverty in the three northern regions, but also reduce food imports, which runs into an estimated $10 million for grains, cereals and vegetables, apart from processed and unprocessed livestock coming from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
The DFID UK recently was compelled to ask Ghana to refund scarce resources meant for funding a development programme when a government agency failed to utilize scarce resources clearly intended at resolving a pressing gap in Ghana’s development. In returning the money, the state agency which was supposed to handle the programme refunded more than what the development agency provided, raising questions about the nation’s priorities, in terms of development.
Whilst over 50% of the administration’s functionaries are indigenes of communities within the SADA Belt, scathing poverty afflicts youth from these communities, compelling them to migrate South to eke out survival as scrap collectors and Kayayei (female head porters), most of them unlettered single parent teenage mothers.
“Ghana imports heavily from Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso for a full half of the year,” according to male European volunteer sources serving in development agency office as a researcher in Tamale in northern Ghana.
Nathan Associates has served a wide range of clients in the public and private sectors throughout the United States, Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, according to information culled from their website