WORLD BANK 6TH ISM VISITS SADA ZONE AND ACCRA PLAINS
From 23rd to 25th November, and from 28th to 29th November, the World Bank’s 6th Implementation Support Mission for GCAP visited the SADA Zone and Accra Plains respectively to review the progress of work of consultants and the performance of beneficiaries of the project’s matching grants scheme.
On the first day in the SADA Zone, the mission visited DANSMANEnterprise at Lamashegu in Tamale, whose 5000-tonne warehouse is almost completed. Workers were on site sieving sand for the plastering of the storage facility but the grantee was not available as he had not been notified about the visit.
Next the mission visited AMSIG at Bontanga in the Kumbungu District of the Northern Region. The Chief Executive Officer of the agro-business enterprise, Gina Odarteifio, took the mission round her 250-tonne warehouse that is about 70 per cent complete, and is expected to be completed by the end of December. At the time of the visit workers were on site plastering the building and working on the trusses.
The mission later had a meeting with smallholders working with AMSIG at the Bontanga Irrigation Project conference room. They expressed their appreciation for benefitting from capacity-building as a result of GCAP’s support to AMSIG and for the provision of weighing scales which have saved them from cheating market women, who used to purchase their paddy without any standard measure.
AMSIG provides inputs such as seeds and agro-chemicals, and facilitates mechanisation services. It got a grant from GCAP for capacity-building, land development and the construction of the warehouse. Women farmers at the meeting said they had benefitted from training in parboiling and are now able to produce high quality rice. They suggested that the Bolgatanga system of parboiling which produces superior quality rice should be introduced to the Bontanga scheme area.
However, the smallholders were worried about their inability to harvest their rice in time because of lack of combine harvesters and asked GCAP to assist in acquiring one.
At Libga Farms at Tamaligu in the Savelugu-Nanton District of the Northern Region, harvesting was on-going when the mission arrived there. The outgrowers on the field were excited about the high prospects of higher yields and bigger incomes from the harvest. Mr. Abukari Iddrisu, chairman of the group, lauded the outgrower scheme and felt it was the best they could ever get to improve their lot.
The Chief Executive Officer of Libga Farms, Dr Sumani Alhassan, said the crop yield was good but there were no combine harvesters to get the paddy rice out of the fields. The one that was available often broke down while the moisture content in the paddy rice on the fields reduced by the day resulting in losses during harvesting.
“Our yields are high; combine operators are used to breezing through rice fields with low crop stands”, Dr Alhassan observed. “The operators find it difficult to do a good job using old machines”. He bemoaned the high fee of Ghs 200 per acre that the combine harvesters were charging.
At the time of the visit, only 33 out of the150-acre paddy rice field had been harvested. Libga Farms has 40 outgrowers of whom 10 are women. Most of the men came from Savelugu, while all the women were from Tamalugu. The land holding of the prepared area is 50/50 between Libga Farms and the smallholders. An off-taker, Avnash, with which the farms has signed a contract, buys the paddy rice. The nucleus farmer takes his paddy rice straight to the mills of the off-taker at Nyankpala near Tamale, while that of the smallholders is bagged before being taken there. This is to ensure that the smallholders know the number of bags and the earnings thereof.
Dr Alhassan said they were expecting 25 bags per acre but because the rice has become too dry a lot of it shatters during harvesting resulting in 17-19 bags per acre. On pricing, he indicated that at the appropriate moisture level, they get a premium price but it reduces when the rice dries up before it is harvested.
Dr Alhassan provided the small-scale farmers with improved seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, technical services. Land development was done by GCAP.
The team visited Emtrade rice field at Nasia in the Savelugu-Nanton District. The investor was there with 13 workers and harvesting was on-going. About 25 hectares was prepared but only 10 hectares was planted because a greater part of the land was flooded at the time of planting. Among the 13 workers were four women who were winnowing the threshed paddy rice to rid of chaff before bagging it. Women from the Nasia community, who were not part of the workers, were spotted gleaning from the harvested portion of the farms. They kept whatever they got for themselves. According to one of them they will sell some of it and feed their families with the rest. Gleaning is a common practice among communities in the Northern Region as way of helping women, especially older ones and widows.
From Emtrade, the mission visited M-Gallant rice field where harvesting was ongoing. The crop was too dry and shattered as the combine breezed the field. There was a lot of seed scattered on the field, a clear sign of losses.
The CEO of the farms, Alhajj Issahaku Musah, said they were expecting an average of 3.2 tonnes per hectare. On a tarpaulin in the middle of the harvested portion of the farm was a heap of threshed paddy rice discharged by the combine. Alhajj Musah said he would try and pick all the shattered paddy rice on the ground to avert what was visibly a big loss.
A MEETING WITH ICOUR AND SMEC AT TONO
On 25th November, the mission held a meeting with the managements of Irrigation Company of the Upper Region (ICOUR) and SMEC International, design consultants on the Tono and Vea schemes, at the court yard of ICOUR offices at Tono. Each of them gave a presentation on their progress of work.
Other people who attended the meeting included ICOUR staff, the former Vea Project manager, a representative of the Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, the Regional Manager of GIDA, the Regional Lands Officer and the Regional Valuation Officer. A total of about 32 people attended the meeting.
Background to the two schemes
The Tono irrigation scheme near Navrongo and the Vea Project near Bolgatanga all in the Upper East Region are two schemes being managed by ICOUR. In 2015, GCAP restructured ICOUR by narrowing down its mandate and reducing its staff numbers from 138 to 42. Currently they are 31 with the intention that 11 more will be recruited. GCAP then carried out a number of interventions to lift up the two schemes for efficiency and sustainability. These are their rehabilitation and modernisation for which design consultants, SMEC International, were procured. They started work in February 2016 and are working hard to make up for lost time in order to complete the work on schedule.
Presentation by ICOUR
After introductions, the Ag. Managing Director (MD) of ICOUR, Mr Sebastian Bagina, gave a brief overview of the Tono and Vea projects. He stated that Tono was incorporated as a company in 1985 and has been in operation for well over 30 years. ICOUR manages the two schemes and small-scale farmers on them to produce food crops and improve food security in that part of the Upper East Region.
The company’s vision is to become a sustainable irrigation company rendering efficient water delivery services to farmers in both wet and dry seasons, contributing towards their income levels and recovering only maintenance and service costs. ICOUR provides mechanical services to farmers, maintains project infrastructure, facilitates credit and marketing services to farmers, and provides training in agronomic practices and technical extension services. The main crops of the schemes are rice, tomatoes, soya, and onions.
Mr Bagina provided a map of the Tono and Vea schemes that gave a graphic representation of what the two schemes look like. He stated that the vision of ICOUR is to provide enough water for all-year farming, mechanisation services, and facilitate credit and marketing services to the farmers. In 2007-2008, the Government of Ghana rehabilitated the right and left banks of the Tono reservoir. The scheme has 1,500ha irrigable area.
Mr Bagina stated that there had been capacity-building for the management of ICOUR. Some management staff and farmers went to India on a training tour, where they learned about irrigation water management. From that tour regulations on water use and management were drafted and eventually passed into the Water Users’ Association (WUAs) laws (Law 2230) in May this year. There was also a second training tour, this time in the US, without any of the farmers going because it was announced at short notice.
Sizes of the two schemes
Mr Bagina informed the mission that the Tono scheme has a total of 2,490ha of land developed, of which 1,500ha is under cultivation while the Vea project has 850ha of irrigable land with 200ha being used for production. He asserted that farmers were sensitised on the concept of rehabilitating the schemes and everybody is well engaged.
Asked how the farmers manage water from the schemes, the Mr Bagina explained that at the beginning, they were not paying for the irrigation services because the concept was new to them. User fees were later introduced when the farmers began reaping benefits from the services.
Mr Bagina asserted that committees drawn from the Lands Commission and district assemblies were formed to allocate land to members of village land committees. Farmer-based organisations were also formed, and these eventually became the Tono Irrigation Co-operative Farmers Association.
According to Mr Bagina, the farmers initially achieved yields of 2 tonnes per hectare when they planted by broadcasting but yields rose to 4 tonnes per hectare when they changed to transplanting the rice. They are currently adopting row planting with the assistance of USAID/FINGAP and ADVANCE. He expressed the hope that with the modernisation of the schemes there would be efficient delivery of water to the farmers and ICOUR would be able to determine the amount of water used volumetrically, and know the management of water by the WUAs.
The consultants are supposed to make crop suitability assessment and introduce crops that will be beneficial to farmers. To bring in more revenue for the sustainability of the scheme, the Project Co-ordinator of GCAP, Mr Charles Nornoo, suggested that ICOUR should consider bringing in an entrepreneur to take over the areas marked B and O on the map of the scheme.
Farmers’ representation on the Tono scheme
Mr Nornoo informed the mission that the farmers have representation on the monthly technical meetings between ICOUR/GCAP and SMEC.
Land security and grievance redress
Mr Bagina explained that in the 1980s, the government came out to declare that the land in the Tono scheme area had been legally acquired by a Legislative Instrument (L.I). and this is generally known to all the farmers. He informed the mission there was not going to be any resettlement and that Grievance Redress Mechanisms were yet to be established.
In the case of the Vea Project, Mr Bagina asserted that the document on land acquisition covers the irrigable area. ICOUR has management control of the land during the dry season and therefore the company can get levies from its irrigation services. ICOUR has not had sufficient engagement with it. Its 15,000 hectares are vested lands.
A representative of the Lands Commission present at the meeting indicated there had been two different instruments on land acquisition. In the 1950s, government acquired 352 acres of land, and then in the 1980s it acquired 11,000 acres. He suggested to ICOUR to let the communities know that the instruments make it difficult to cede any part of the acquired land.
With regards to the Vea Project, The Wold Bank Safeguards consultant asked ICOUR to try and manage expectations among the farmers and communities. The Task Team Leader for GCAP at the World Bank, Dr Hardwick Tchale, called for a strong representation of the communities on the schemes.
In his presentation SMEC’s team leader, Ing. Robert Wilkens, walked the meeting through the concept for the rehabilitation and modernisation designs for the schemes, looked at rainfall patterns and climate change, the sociology of the scheme, the establishment of WUAs, and the automation of the water supply system. He stated that his organisation had in mind the establishment of two Water Users Associations (WUAs) with a bottom-up approach to managing and training them.
Ing. Wilkens asserted there will be meters on selected units and centres where farmers can know the amount of water they use. An engineer will be engaged to manage the centres.
Progress of work
He informed the mission that the detailed designs were 15 per cent complete and was hopeful of completing the entire work in two months.
He mentioned the following as challenges and needs:
- Bye-laws need to be put in place and the farmers properly organised;
- The literacy rate among the farmers is low and can, to a certain degree, affect the operation of the scheme;
- ICOUR members need capacity-building in readiness for the running of the scheme;
- The monitoring of water availability is required;
- A contract will have to be signed with the Meteorological Services and the Hydrology Department.
- It will be difficult to provide meters for everybody within the water supply system of the scheme.
Ing. Wilkens made a few recommendations/observations.
- A watering area for cattle is required to prevent the animals from interfering with the scheme;
- The rehabilitation of the canals will require closing the scheme.
The team made a tour of the Tono reservoir after which it also visited the Vea scheme where it met with farmers at the Vea Project Offices. There were 87 farmer-based organisations in the area.
On 25th November, the mission visited Sambay Enterprise’s 120-tonne warehouse at Kapania in the Kasena Nankana East District of the Upper East Region, and met with the nucleus farmer, Mr Samuel Baba Yarful, his outgrowers, and the village chief, Bernard Akamuruba.
GCAP supported Mr Yarful to construct his warehouse, train his outgrowers in modern agronomic practices and safeguards; how to form linkages, aggregation, marketing and proper storage of produce. The project also supported him with land development.
Mr Yarful feared that with the rehabilitation of the Tono scheme, the land might be taken from him but the GCAP SADA Zonal Co-ordinator, Ing. Bloomfield C. Attipoe, allayed his fears by saying he had discussed the issue with the Ag. Director of ICOUR.
Mr Yarful asserted that he supports his outgrowers with input mostly seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides and land preparation. He stated that his outgrowers benefitted from training in group dynamics, which led to the formation of co-operatives for which they have opened a bank account. A major challenge he often encounters is the failure of outgrowers to pay back in kind with their produce.
He is also into rice milling and has benefitted from an ADVANCE Project support of a bigger mill which he has installed in Bolgatanga and hopes to relocate it to the warehouse in the near future when he expands his business. Apart from taking what is paid in kind by his outgrowers, he buys some of their produce.
The Ghana Grains Council has contacted him, and is planning to give him training to enable him to link the operations of the warehouse to a financial institution from which farmers can have access to credit.
The chief of Kapania, Bernard Akamuruba, appealed to the mission to help gravel the road to the warehouse, provide the farmers with drying floors and assist them to acquire a combine to enable them to harvest their paddy rice in time.
FARMERS TRAINING CENTER (FTC)
The CEO of the FTC in Bolgatanga, David Azupogo and three other farmers met with the mission at the centre’s warehouse on 25th November. Mr Azupogo explained FTC’s operations as a self-sustaining agribusiness enterprise that facilitates the development of outgrowers through training and group mobilisation support, tractor services and post-harvest management.
GCAP supported the centre with US$235,000 to construct its 500-metric tonne warehouse, and to train its smallholders. The centre helps the farmers to market their produce. Mr. Azupogo said they were experimenting with different models of engagement with the outgrowers depending on their individual capacity. The level of support varies and the farmers are free to pay back the inputs in cash or kind.
The mission’s visit to GADCO at Sogakope on 28th November was the last leg of its two-day visit to the Accra Plains after a meeting on 28th November with WAPCOS and BRLi, at Akuse.
GADCO’s outgrower scheme manager, Joel Tsatsu, briefed the mission on the company’s operations and relations with the Fievie community smallholder for whom it developed 120ha of land with GCAP’s supports. GADCO is a subsidiary of RMG which produces rice on a commercial scale under irrigation. It shares a common mill with the Fievie smallholders who have formed themselves into the COPA group. The company has outgrowers located at Asutsuare in the Shai-Osudoku District and Weta in South Tongu District.
GCAP also supported GADCO with money to construct an equipment shed, and do its main electrification. The company aims to improve the productivity of the smallholders and outgrowers and increase their profitability.
This cropping season, 90ha was cultivated but 60 farmers from the Fievie community came for it and the company kept back the remaining 30ha. GADCO planted the fields and all the smallholders had to do was to apply fertilisers, weedicides and other agro-chemicals. Farmers who were serious at the their work achieved up to 3.8 tonnes per hectare with earnings of gross margins of GHC4,000. Those of them who had been lazy got very little from their poorly attended farms. Happy Dafiamekpor, the extension officer of GADCO, said some of the farmers will habitually not apply fertilisers at the appropriate time resulting in poor yields from their farms.
The Fievie community smallholders get 2.5 percent of proceeds from rice milled by the company and these are managed by its leaders who receive them. One of the community leaders, Emmanuel Ziamesie, said the last cheque they received was GHC18, 400 covering two months.
A common problem with most of the farmers, according to Joel, is their non-compliance with safeguards policies in spite of repeated reminders from the management of GADCO.
The mission later met with the Fievie smallholders on their rice fields to discuss benefits and challenges of the scheme with GADCO. Two women, Bernice Atakli and Gifty Wormenor, testified to their ability to now pay for their children’s school fees, pay for the National Health Insurance premium and have enough money to take good care of themselves and their families.