Geoff Norman is team leader of the Market Development Programme for Northern Ghana (MADE), funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by Nathan Associates UK. MADE acts as a “market systems facilitator” to support and incentivise private sector actors to improve the functioning of value chains. The programme was launched in 2014 and for the first four years helped build the capacity of small rural enterprises to deliver affordable agricultural inputs and services to small-holder farmers. In December 2017, MADE was granted a two-year, no-cost extension to deepen and widen the impacts of its market systems approach and to mainstream those impacts.
One of the primary focus areas of the extension was the delivery of integrated packages, or bundles, of affordable inputs and services to smallholder farmers, including certified seeds, fertilisers, mechanisation and farm enterprise advisory (FEA) services. The bundles, designated the “advanced model”, were built around a “set of rights” for smallholder farmers registered under outreach schemes. Agribusinesses were tasked with supplying the right quality of inputs and services, in the right quantity, at the right price, in the right form, at the right time and in the right place.
Central to all of the “advanced model” bundles was the deployment of farm enterprise advisors (FEAs) to ensure services and inputs provided were used in the right way. To build the necessary capacity to deliver against these requirements and to widen and deepen the impact of the programme, during Phase 2 MADE:
- supported a broader range of partner businesses, including support enterprises, to share responsibilities and risks associated with the broader service delivery requirements.
- delivered strategic and targeted business development services to partner firms to ensure longer-term organic growth.
- worked to establish a functional network of farm enterprise advisors.
- engaged with partner firms to establish robust business workplans and strategies.
- promoted the use of innovative tools to improve the collection and use of information.
- encouraged firms to increase capital investment and expand into new markets.
- promoted the establishment of model farms and demonstration plots to showcase the advantages of improved irrigation and climate-smart technologies and practices.
In addition, during phase 2 MADE focused its efforts on mainstreaming the programme by:
- promoting improved stakeholder engagement.
- conducting independent assessments to see how partner firms were adopting and adapting key advance model components, in order to reaffirm the business case for these interventions and highlight the capacity of market forces to drive sustainable development.
- raising visibility by revamping the programme website, creating a social media presence, producing communications products such as success stories and snapshots, and disseminating programme results and learning through agribusiness fairs, fora and other events.
In 2020, in response to the covid-19 pandemic, MADE was granted a further 9 months extension to help agribusinesses to adapt to the lockdown and deliver personal hygiene and social distancing protocols to rural farming communities. The farm enterprise advisory structure developed as part of the advanced business model has become the mechanism for delivering DFID’s response to the pandemic in Northern Ghana. To support this mechanism, MADE launched an internship scheme offering unemployed graduates from the country’s agricultural colleges an opportunity to work in the private sector and to contribute to the fight against the spread of the disease.
Although entering its final few months, the programme continues to support the process of modernisation of the agricultural sector in the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (NSEZ) of Ghana.
More details of what it has been able to achieve can be found on the MADE website at https://ghana-made.org/