Food Security Through Cooperatives in Northern Ghana (FOSTERING)
- On December 24, 2014
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FOSTERING closeout ceremony celebrates food security successes
The Food Security Through Co-operatives in Northern Ghana project (FOSTERING) came to a formal close March 28th with a celebration of success in Salaga.
The five-year food security project was implemented by SEND Ghana in collaboration with the Ghana Co-operative Credit Unions Association (CUA) and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada), with funding from Global Affairs Canada and CDF Canada.
The closing ceremony was attended by more than 240 partners, government officials and credit union administrators, as well as credit union members and smallholder farmers whose lives and businesses were bettered by the project.
Across the eight districts in the Eastern Corridor where FOSTERING was implemented, 47 percent of credit union and co-operative leadership positions are now held by women, 30,000 smallholder farmers gained access to microfinance, women increased their annual income 10 times, and almost 100 percent of farmers are able to feed their families every day.
CDF Canada Business Development Director Ingrid Fischer gave a speech at the ceremony, saying “the big gains by the male and female farmers … have been made by the combination of an application of new technology and learning, and access to financial services.”
Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada Business Development Director Ingrid Fischer speaks at the FOSTERING closing ceremony March 28th as Ghana Co-operative Unions Association Chief Administrator Lydia Kisseih and other members of the head table look on.
During her speech, Fischer asked male farmers in attendance to stand up.
“What you have done over the last five years, you have increased your farm income eight times,” she told them.
Fischer then asked female farmers in attendance to rise and celebrate increasing their income by 10 times.
“CDF Canada does not believe in beneficiaries, we believe in partners, we believe in members,” she said. “You’re members of co-ops and credit unions, and that makes you owners, and responsible for your destiny.”
Representatives of the Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MOFA), the Zabzugu District, SEND Ghana, the Northern Regional Minister, CUA and the Canadian High Commission also shared speeches with a common thread: Ghanaians will continue to benefit from the project long after its close.
Zabzugu District Chief Executive Ahmed Abubakari Iddrisu said, “FOSTERING has made a prototype structure for Planting for Food and Jobs,” a five-year MOFA campaign to increase food productivity, ensure food security and reduce food importation. He said they will replicate FOSTERING in their work going forward because continued capacity-building projects will help Ghana achieve its sustainable development goals and go beyond aid.
SEND CEO Siapha Kamara takes to the ceremony stage to celebrate FOSTERING’s success.
In a private interview, SEND CEO Siapha Kamara said capacity-building is what allowed FOSTERING to achieve its successes, such as reducing stunting and increasing income levels for women.
“FOSTERING emphasized capacity-building, for example the technologists training women and men farmers how to plant in rows, exposing farmers to improved seeds,” said Kamara. “These are very, very simple technologies that farmers are going to continue to use.
“SEND and all our partners have determined that we want to have another phase to continue the work that we’re doing here, and the communities are quite anxious to have another phase of FOSTERING. For me, that’s the best thing, that we support the community to sustain the gains of FOSTERING.”
In the meantime, CUA Chief Administrator Lydia Kisseih said her association will maintain its relationships with the nine credit unions that participated in the project and continue to supervise the loan funds established through FOSTERING.
“The FOSTERING project may be formally closing today, but has not ended,” said Kisseih. “With support from all implementing partners, a new business plan is being developed toward the continuous management of these funds in the interest of the beneficiary women and men members of our communities.”
The Food Security Through Co-operatives in Northern Ghana (FOSTERING) project was a CAD $8 million, 5-year project (2013-2018) that established farmer-managed, farmer-owned credit unions as well as agricultural co-operative enterprises to deliver the tools female and male farmers in the Eastern Corridor of Northern Ghana needed to become food-secure and increase household incomes.
SEND Ghana implemented the project in collaboration with the Ghana Co-operative Credit Unions Association (CUA) and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada), with funding from Global Affairs Canada and CDF Canada.
By improving production and marketing of products, providing access to finance, and promoting Gender Model Families, the project increased sustainable, gender-equitable food security across eight districts in the Eastern Corridor (East Gonja, Kpandai, Nanumba South, Nanumba North, Krachi-Nchumuru, Zabzugu, Tatale-Sangule and Chereponi). Prone to adverse weather conditions, such as floods and droughts, as well as local conflict, these areas were the most vulnerable to food insecurity and had household incomes below Ghana’s poverty threshold.
As a result of FOSTERING, sharing household chores is trending in 130 communities across the eight districts, women’s leadership skills have increased 20 times, 47 percent of credit union and co-operative leadership positions are now held by women, women have increased their annual income by 10 times, 30,000 more smallholder farmers have access to microfinance, farmers’ incomes are 50 percent more stable after diversifying their crops, and almost 100 percent of farmers are now able to feed their families every day.
Project Introduction (2013)
The Food Security Through Co-operatives in Northern Ghana (FOSTERING) Project is being implemented under the Livelihood Security Programme.
The objective of the project is to increase sustainable, gender equitable food security for over 42,000 women and men in eight districts in the Eastern Corridor of Northern Ghana.
The project tackles directly four key areas of improving food security and sustainable economic growth for small-holder farmers: improving production; better marketing of products; expansion of household activities into off-season businesses; and access to finance.
The CAD$ 8,032,149.00 project which is being funded by Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Canada and Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) will cover 130 communities in eight (8) districts in the Northern region.
The districts include are East Gonja, Kpandai, Nanumba South, Nanumba North, Krachi-Nchumuru, Zabzugu, Tatale-Sangule and Chereponi.
The eight (8) districts have a population of approximately 844,373 based on the 2010 census with over 70% of the inhabitants being food crop farmers, the most vulnerable to food insecurity.
Households of food crop farmers and agro-pastoralists in these areas are the most vulnerable to food insecurity and have household incomes below Ghana’s poverty threshold. Almost three-quarters of food crop farmer households (72%) cultivate land less than two hectares in size with nearly all of them (98%) entirely reliant on rainwater for cultivation.
These areas are also prone to adverse weather conditions, such as floods and droughts, as well as local conflict thereby increasing their levels of vulnerability.
To ensure sustainability of project outcomes, gender sensitive and climate resilient agricultural strategies have been built into the project where farmers and community members’ adaptive capacity would be strengthened in order to reduce their level of vulnerability.
The project is expected to increase sustainable, gender equitable food security for over 42,000 women and men in 5,400 households within 116 communities in 8 districts. With the inclusion of family members, the project will reach over 331,800 individuals.