The commemorative 10th edition of Ghana’s premier Pre-harvest platform, the Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition has ended in Tamale.

The event which is arguably the most expansive agricultural showpiece in Ghana took place at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium on 7th – 8th October, with a call on stakeholders to identify and take advantage of the numerous opportunities available in the agriculture sector for increased productivity to help the sector rebound from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marking ten years of palpable impact on farmers and other participants, the even reverted to 2days to consolidate considerations for the covid-19 pandemic which though minimized remains a present threat.

Keeping to its tradition of impactful sessions, organisers made sure to structure the event to reflect in-depth insights, actionable and practical tools of engagement models, methods and mechanisms for improved productivity by industry firms. seasoned resource persons were on hand as participants savoured riveting seminar sessions which had been deliberately structured to improve knowledge and incite an awakening amongst participants who were charged to collectively leverage agribusiness as a viable solution for agricultural Transformation post Covid-19.

Held under the Theme: Covid-19 And Beyond; Solutions for Agricultural Transformation, The Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference provided extraordinary opportunity for participants   to meet with farmers of all commodities to negotiate and seal deals.

Participants also had the opportunity to meet fertilizer, irrigation and seed companies, tractor, machinery and equipment dealers, technology firms, banks and financial institutions, processors, researchers, government institutions, development partners and a lot more.

Already inclined to the impact of the event in the last decade, the venue of the event was thronged by major players in the various sectors of the agricultural value chain such as farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, equipment dealers, financial institutions, policy makers among others. Attendees also included government officials, international donor organizations, the Diplomatic Community among others.

Opening

In her welcome address, the Executive Director of Agri-house Foundation, Organizers of the event, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa traced the roots of the event, while outlining the seismic impact made through the event in the last decade.

She began: “For us, at Agri-house, the reality of our successful convergence here today adds even more to our joy as we mark the 10th Anniversary of this great event, the Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibition.

It was in this same Tamale, 10 years ago, that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID ADVANCE) launched the Pre-harvest Annual Conference and Exhibitions. Then, it was well received and, in that very year, it was clear that the idea of the program was on point, and that it came at the right time and chose the right location to commence its transformational work on Ghana’s agriculture. Meanwhile, Agri-house Foundation was the local company engaged by USAID ADVANCE to manage and coordinate the organizing of the program until three years ago when the project was passed on to Agri-house Foundation to continue its execution.

Today, the Pre-Harvest event occupies an important position, not just on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s annual schedule of activities, but in the annual diary of who-is-who in Ghana’s agricultural space. Owing to the precise pinpoint correctness of the founders’ identification of the need of northern Ghana’s agricultural development and the corresponding rightness of the strategies devised to address those needs in long term basis, the Pre-Harvest event concept has today become a relevant and foremost forum where all the actors, especially in northern Ghana’s agricultural sector, convene to deliberate and take action towards making the sector more productive and sustaining. “

“Today we are celebrating not just the purposeful consistency of the Annual Pre-Harvest event, but its increasing value adding relevance to the growth of the smallholder farmer and the whole agricultural.

We keep receiving testimonies of how beneficial the event has become to all across the agricultural value chain.

Even if we should just for a moment take a look around us, right here as we are gathered, you will see the smallholder farmer everywhere you turn. Are they here because this is some kind of fanfare? No, of course. They are happily here because they find value, they find enhancement in being here to partake in this great gathering that keeps adding value to their well-being from year to year. Their presence here every year is of a serious and beneficial purpose to them, and it tells us a lot of good things.”

“We remain ever grateful to the vision of the USAID-ADVANCE whose foresight produced the master program that we have been building on to come thus far.

As we all have come to observe, before now, agricultural business, investment and development in Ghana have largely taken place in the south of the country with the massive farming of tropical (forest) cash crops, like cocoa and palm oil. While the northern part of Ghana with, at least, 8 million unused acres of agricultural land with highly suitable soils, according to the Savannah Development Authourity (SADA), is receiving less attention even with its potential for large scale farming, development of modern agro-industry supply chains, poultry and vegetable oils, rice, sugar, cotton, cassava, shea, highly value-added tree crops, livestock, aquaculture, etc. We are glad to say that today, that narrative is reflecting a developing change for the better.

I have said this elsewhere and, because it is important that I repeat it here, I am going to do so.”

She outlined details of the specific impact made through the program and went on to tell the story of the wonderful things Agri-house is doing for agriculture.

“For the past nine years, our initiatives under the Pre-Harvest event have:  Provided long term market opportunities to over 97,000 less privileged farmers in the northern part of the country  ,Boosted the capacity of over 400 farmer-based organizations and aggregators to step up their role as market actors, Assisted farmers and over 300 agri-businesses to expand, as well as created an environment for new partnerships, Helped the farmers adopt best practices for sustainability, Provided a platform for more than 10,000 commodity buyers to establish business relationships for the marketing of their produce.”

“Agrihouse Foundation, as an organization is, comparatively, a very young company despite its impressive performance record. Though we are small now, we have big nationwide impactful ideas which we are bent on achieving.

For instance, within three years, we have organized agribusiness boot-camps for the youth; technically and financially assisted the young graduates in setting up over 20 businesses. In two years, our women in food and agric leadership training programme have trained, mentored and empowered over 800 agro women from Volta Region and beyond. Our programme has also strengthened women’s agribusiness enterprises across Ghana, motivating a paradigm shift in projecting women achievers in agribusiness. Though small, and with limited resources, our programmes have ultimately helped to create and sustain thousands of jobs across the agricultural value chain.

Consequently, as we are celebrating ten years of upholding and effectively executing a highly strategic and impactful development program, we would like to use this same forum to draw attention to our growing need for support to further expand the mandate of our flagship event. As enumerated earlier, on how we have been positively impacting the lives of our youth and the our women, we want to build and expand on the foundation we have laid.  We want to start fulltime training as we have so far proven to be capable of doing so, even with our limited resources.

Here in Tamale, for instance, we require our own permanent site where can host our Pre-Harvest events, as well as run other training and advocacy programmes that reflects the general objectives of the Pre-Harvest concept; and farmer’s events.

For that, we are, therefore, humbly appealing to our Chiefs, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Northern Regional Coordinating Council to allocate land to us where can start building an Agric Project/event and training centre for the training of our young and promising youth, as well as women.”

“In addition to that, as we have all learnt from the Covid-19 experience, online communication has assumed such an importance amongst our modern day work variables. The present Covid era has, all too soon, made the online platform an inevitable medium for effecting lucrative changes. In this light, therefore, we have started designing an online market linkage platform dedicated to serving our women in agriculture. This, we believe, will help in bridging the existing marketing gap for women processors and women in the agric value chain. A little assistance from the private sector in this regard will also be most helpful in actualizing this plan which has already been set in motion.”

“let me share the good news of our having the partnership of the European Union. This, was made possible through the kind facilitation of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. With this partnership, we are further encouraged to believe that our mutual goals of boosting agriculture and eliminating hunger shall be accomplished. Hence we are most grateful to the European Union, and particularly to Her Excellency, Diana Acconcia, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ghana, for aligning their “super power” with our local efforts for greater works for Ghana. “She concluded her effusive address.

Event Basis

The event featured Commodity Break-out sessions, policy discourse, Business to Business among other knowledge impartation opportunities for participants.

Panel Education sessions revolved around areas likeClimate-smart agricultural approach and practices, reasons and solutions for crop failure and low productivity; Warehousing and Storage technologies for post-harvest losses; causes of land degradation, soil fertility, and biomass losses; appraisals for obtaining credit or loans etc.

Farmers learned how to Increase their agricultural incomes and how to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in a session handled by Ecobank. The bank also handled a training session on how to succeed at obtaining credit for farm and agribusiness expansion.

Yara Ghana, a leading fertilizer and input firm trained farmers on how to overcome challenges in marketing and pricing instability, as well as how to improve high and quality yields through appropriate production practices.

Event Focus Areas

There was a transfer of practical knowledge from industry stalwarts to farmers who organizers believe will take advantage of the rare opportunity to expand their output through a reliance on modernisation and agribusiness.

Government’s headline agriculture policy, the Planting for Food and Jobs and its allied modules were equally discussed extensively -with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture on hand to help farmers understand the opportunities it present and how to make the most of it. Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture also used the opportunity to receive feedback from farmers and other value chain actors on how the policy has impacted them and also report any challenges.

There was also an opportunity for donor and development partners to meet interact and identify investment opportunities for farmers and other areas in the industry.

The platform afforded development partners an opportunity to meet local partners who shared a commitment to improve the lot of farmers and other areas of the industry.

Focus On Agribusiness Financing was emphasised liberally as experts helpedparticipants gain insight on ways to identify and utilize the appropriate sources of agriculture funding; how to qualify for funding support and how to guarantee impressive turnovers.

A general exhibition held simultaneously to showcase a variety of farm produce, equipment, services that participants can take advantage of-with the full complement of product/service information.

To minimize human contact, a virtual exhibition was incorporated into the event module as a consideration for the covid-19 pandemic.

Event Background

In Tamale 10 years ago, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID ADVANCE) launched the Pre-harvest Annual Conference and Exhibitions. The event was soon bequeathed Agri-house Foundation who has now organizes the event.

In 2018, the event was adjudged the Agribusiness event of the Year and is today a key feature on the agriculture calendar.

The event operates from a facilitative dimension through which it creates the platform on which smallholder farmers are linked to markets, finance, inputs, equipment, and information through larger commercial farmers and traders who have the capacity and incentive to invest in smallholder production.

The event this year enjoyed the partnership and sponsorship support of the ministry of food and agriculture, The European Union, Yara Ghana, Ecobank, the northern regional coordinating council and Agricultural Development Bank (ADB)