GCAA to Regulate Use of Drones from September


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UAV Photo Courtesy: Google Images

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has come up with standards and practices to regulate the operations of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), popularly referred to as drones, with effect from September this year. This means owners and users of drones, as well as those who wish to acquire them, need to officially apply to the GCAA to secure approval before they can use or acquire them.

The Director-General of the GCAA, Mr Simon Allotey, made this known at a day’s workshop in Accra to explain the processes and procedures one had to go through before operating drones. The stakeholders, mainly airline operators, ground handlers, tourism industry players, airport officials and the media, were taken through the registration, licensing and the legal regime that govern the aviation industry in Ghana. The participants were also given the opportunity to ask questions that bordered on the industry, particularly drone operations.

The new directive to regulate the operations of drones is meant to supplement the provisions of the Ghana Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, 2011, Legislative Instrument (LI) 2000.
Additionally, the directive is in line with the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention, 1994), which regulates the operation of all aircraft, including RPAS.
Mr Allotey said the development had also been necessitated by the fact that there was the need for safe air navigation.
Even though the operation of drones is now seen at most places in the country, the GCAA has no statistics on the number of the RPAS in the country currently.

Mr Allotey stated that there was the need for individuals and commercial operators to register with the authority for easy regulation.
“Per the new guidelines, a person will not be obliged to act as an RPA observer without having in his or her possession proof of RPA observer competency issued by a training organisation approved by the authority.
“No person shall be allowed to operate or import drones into the country without our approval,” he stressed.
He said the registration would enable the authority to be able to compile the number of drones in the country, noting that plans were underway to put operators into an association in the long term.

For those who already owned the equipment, Mr Allotey said, they would be required to supply the authority with relevant information for registration.

He was, however, quick to add that there was the need for constant education on the need for registration and licensing of the operations of drones in the country by the GCAA, adding that drones had come to stay.

Basic knowledge
In a presentation, the Director of Legal, International Relations and Corporate Communications of the GCAA, Mrs Joyce Anakwa Thompson, said for anyone to operate drones in the country, the individual must have basic knowledge of the equipment.
She indicated that since Ghana was a signatory to the Chicago Convention, there was the need for the nation to apply the law to the letter.

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Ghana take giant steps to boost cocoa production


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Ghana’s effort at increasing its cocoa production has taken a giant step forward with the establishment of 20 Rural Service Centres (RSCs) to aid farmers adopt best farm management practices to raise the per hectare yield.

The Centres spread across 14 districts in the cocoa belt – Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Western and Central Regions, are an integral part of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP), implemented by Solidaridad together with Cocobod, the International International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC) and other private sector partners.

They serve as one stop shop for comprehensive range of services – training farmers on best agronomic practices, assisting them to rehabilitate their farms, renew farms through complete seedlings replanting or canopy substitution through grafting of aged trees. Added to these is the retaining of inputs – fertilizers, herbicides, tools and irrigation system.

Mr. Eric Agyare, Programme Manager of CORIP Ghana, said the goal was to substantially raise the average per hectare yield from the present 450 kilogrammes to boost farmers’ returns.

He made reference to Indonesia, Brazil and neighbouring La Cote d’ Ivoire where farmers were getting per hectare yield of between 1,200 and 2,000 kilogrammes and indicated that the same could be done here.

He said this when he conducted journalists to inspect demonstration farms established under the programme and one of the RSCs in New Edubiase, in the Adansi South District.

Mr. Agyare said so far 19 demonstration farms has been established and about 30,000 farmers trained to adopt improved farming practices.

He spoke of the need to ensure a more productive and sustainable cocoa sector – free from poverty and human rights issues, if the nation was to continue to supply more cocoa beans and to remain competitive in the global market.

“Certification schemes alone are no longer enough. Stakeholders in the cocoa sector in Ghana agree a market transformation approach – working with farmers, cocoa and chocolate companies, service providers, consumers and the government simultaneously is the way to go”, he added.

JICA to scale up rice projects in Ashanti, Northern Regions in Ghana


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Rice 2-Agricinghana

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be implementing the second phase of one of its flagship Projects in the Agriculture Sector in the Ashanti and Northern Regions. The project is dubbed ‘Project for Sustainable Development of Rainfed Lowland Rice Production’.

This was made known at two separate workshops organized in Kumasi and Tamale to inform beneficiaries about the contents of the new phase of the Project.

The participants of the workshop included the Rice Liaison Officer from the Directorate of Crop Services (DCS), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), MoFA Ashanti and Northern Regional Directors of Agriculture, staff from the two Regional Coordinating Councils and District Agriculture Departments of beneficiary districts, farmers, Project Experts and representatives from JICA.

Together with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), JICA implemented the first phase of the Project from 2009 to 2014 in five districts in Ashanti region and four districts in the Northern Region.

These districts include: Asante Akim North, Asante Akim Central, Atwima Mponua, Ahafo Ano North and Adansi South in the Ashanti Region. Those in the Northern region are Tamale Metropolitan, East Gonja, West Mamprusi and Sagnerigu districts.

In a speech to highlight the successes of the first phase, Mr. Kosuke Nagino, Project Formulation Advisor at JICA Ghana Office indicated that at the end of the first phase, on the average, rice yields in the target areas doubled.

‘Invariably, the increased yields were; six tonnes per hectare from a baseline of three tonnes per hectare in the Ashanti Region and four tonnes per hectare from two tonnes per hectare in the Northern Region.

This translated into increase in farmers’ incomes and improved standards of living of beneficiary households. Thus, the Project goal of increasing the productivity and profitability of rice farming in rainfed lowland ecologies in the target areas was achieved.

Qualitatively, the Project was able to develop a Rice Extension Guideline that contains rice cultivation and extension techniques that also served as a basis for the development of beneficiary District Rice Extension Plans,’ he explained.

Mr. Kwaku Minka Fordjour, Ashanti Regional Director of Agriculture, noted that: “The Project has made an immense impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the target areas.” This was reiterated by the Northern Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr. William Boakye Acheampong at the Tamale Workshop. A farmer present at the Kumasi workshop testified that “as a result of the increase in his income level, he has been able to send his children to school and plans of acquiring a tractor to expand his farm”.

As a result of the outstanding impact of the first phase, MoFA requested JICA to extend this support to new districts within the same regions with the view of disseminating the Rice Extension Guidelines.

Accordingly, JICA agreed and will be extending these Guidelines to 20 and 15 MMDAs in the Ashanti and Northern regions respectively. The new phase will commence this year and end in 2021.

On his part, the Rice Liaison Officer representing the Director of DCS, MoFA, Mr. Al-Hassan Imoro indicated that: “MoFA is also committed to ensuring that the next phase is successfully implemented.”

Under the new phase, JICA will provide technical guidance in the dissemination of the extension guidelines to the new districts whereas MoFA will be responsible for guiding the Regional and District Agriculture Departments in the implementation of rice extension activities.

On her part, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will also assist the MMDAs in mainstreaming the project activities in their planning and budgeting.

ICT in Agriculture in Ghana: The Bulging Potentials for Ghana’s Youth


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A vast potential exists for the use of ICTs in agricultural development and numerous applications are being developed for this purpose. ICTs can be used to carry out soil tests; to apply fertiliser; to receive extension advice and weather forecasts; to monitor pests and diseases; to make marketing decisions; to decide when to harvest; to weigh produce in the field; to send and receive payments, including credit; to monitor produce during transportation and storage; to improve transport, wholesale and retail logistics; and to generally upgrade management efficiency.

During recent focus group discussions (FGD) conducted for representatives of youth groups in northern and southern Ghana under the theme: Ghana’s Youth and the use of ICTs in Agriculture, critical issues were discussed and advocated for inclusion into the Youth in Agriculture, and Gender in Agriculture Policies of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The issues included the problem of limited ICT infrastructure and illiteracy in rural communities, and how youth could be engaged in agriculture through ICTs.

The workshops were organised by Syecomp Ghana Ltd as part of activities under a grant activity: Improving Approaches to Mainstreaming Gender in Ghana’s Youth Policy and Youth in Agriculture Programme: Focus on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Market-Oriented Value Chains; and sponsored by the USAID|Ghana Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project, which is being implemented by Chemonics International Inc. (USA).

The FGD focused on the need for Ghana’s technologically-savvy youth to identify constraints in Ghana’s Agricultural value chain and develop locally-relevant ICT solutions. It was noted that youth groups in Ghana are already successfully established for-profit companies in the area of agriculture that are youth-led. Some successful examples of youth-led companies in Ghana mentioned include geospatial mapping solutions by Syecomp Ghana Ltd; market price information by Esoko Ghana; agronomic information by Farmerline Ltd; and farm-to-market solutions by mFarms Ghana Ltd.

A representative of the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC) noted that the increased use of mobile and remote sensing technology in farming can help to change the attitudes and perceptions of young people on agriculture. By applying ICTs in agriculture, rather than the unattractive stereotypes of traditional farming, the youth now view agriculture as an exciting and innovative industry. A representative of MoFA regional office in Tamale shared some opportunities for private-sector led solutions in developing viable e-extension and e-agriculture platforms that the youth can engage in. He further said that a collaborative approach between the public and private sector will provide long-term financing and viability to youth-managed ICT-for-Agriculture companies.

At both workshops, participants discussed extensively data gaps within public institutions and opportunities for the use of big data in agriculture. They also discussed the need for youth agribusiness entrepreneurs to develop applications for effective data capture, and to explore possibilities for partnership with large agribusiness players who might express interest in their data interpretation and forecasting models.

Generally, the participants noted that ICT is a unique and an attractive entry point for young men and women to be engaged in the agrifood system. There are identifiable constraints along the agricultural value chain, thus making it a smart entry point with innovative technology solutions and sustainable business models. Deliberations also focused on the need for improved policies from decision-makers that will nurture and develop better partnerships to strengthen the role of young men and women in ICT initiatives and improve the impact of ICTs in agriculture.

Workshop blog

This is the 3rd in a 12-series blog articles to espouse the context of the Position Paper on effectively mainstreaming Youth in Agriculture in Ghana which is under development  with support from USAID/Agricultural Policy Support Programme (USAID/APSP).

Author: Syecomp Ghana Ltd

Email the author: Projects@syecomp.com

The author’s views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.

New Agricultural Financing Mechanism: Government of Ghana, AGRA focus


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In an effort to find a lasting solution to the perennial agricultural funding challenge that has stalled development of the sector, the Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa (AGRA) NGO in collaboration with the Ghana government is developing an all-inclusive agricultural financing mechanism to that effect.

Ghana’s agricultural sector is seriously under-resourced, particularly smallholder farmers who are being starved of the needed financial resources to purchase necessary inputs. Banks and other financial institutions have ‘blacklisted’ the sector as a highly risky venture, hence their hesitation to advance loans to its players. The situation is a major factor in the declining fortunes of the sector.

The Country Head of AGRA, Dr. Kwasi Ampofo said the agricultural financial model, dubbed the ‘Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing Agricultural Lending System’, is currently in the developing stage. The system, he noted, will provide an effective framework for the Bank of Ghana to collaborate with commercial banks to lend at competitive interest rates to players in the agricultural value-chain, adding: “A technical team is working with the Bank of Ghana, Finance Ministry, and Ministry of Food and Agriculture to engineer the mechanism”.

He said AGRA has worked with the Nigerian government to develop a similar mechanism that has been very instrumental to development of the agricultural sector in that country, hence the need to replicate it in Ghana.

Dr. Ampofo announced this in Sunyani during a maize value chain stakeholders’ meeting. It was primarily designed for information-sharing on the Development of Market Access and Post-harvest Service (DMAPS), a multi-stakeholder project aimed at enhancing access to markets by over 10,000 smallholder maize farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The meeting was under the theme ‘Catalysing the potential of the maize sub-sector through effective smallholder farmers’ participation in the right markets’.

He stressed the need for government and other relevant agricultural stakeholders to create the needed enabling environment to increase maize yield. The current average maize yield in the country is estimated at 1.8 tonnes per hectare, but he pointed out that there is potential to accelerate maize yield to about 3.6 tonnes/hectare, saying: “AGRA has a maize project in the Volta Region and it is achieving 3.4 tonnes/hectare, and therefore if all put their shoulders to the wheel, it will be achieved”.

“The key drivers of agriculture are access to relevant information; access to high quality inputs; access to high-earned market structures; access to finance and enabling policy environment. It is important to prioritise these issues to boost growth of the sector,” he stated.

On her part, Country Director-Concern Universal Ghana – implementing partner of DMAPS – Juliette Lampoh said irrespective of the agriculture sector’s dwindling contribution to the economy, the sector remains very critical to development of the economy, especially in agric-driven areas like the Brong Ahafo Region where efforts must be made to improve it.

“Smallholder farmers are the heart of maize production and marketing; they must be key actors of achieving the needed change. It is a paradox that in one breath we speak of agriculture as an economic sector and at the same time in reality it is perceived largely as subsistence sector, particularly the staples.

“Subsistence does not grow economies, but rather effective trade; development and job-creation potential will remain a mirage if the majority of producers are left out of participating effectively in the market. But market participation cannot be effective in unstructured markets with no appreciation of standards and no incentive for quality. There is a need for urgent and significant change,” she said.

The Director of Agribusiness Unit-MoFA, Nicolas Neequaye, in a speech read for him alluded to the fact that in order for farmers to fully benefit from the available market opportunities, they [farmers] must be well-organised and abreast with various market requirements and produce commodities that are in demand, saying: “Farmers need to identify possible markets and their requirements before producing”.

He therefore applauded DMAPS’ project for treading the right path to strategically position players along the maize value chain in the Brong Ahafo Region. The project stimulates competitive farmer-based organisations (FBOs) to access post-harvest services and fair markets.

Source Credit: http://www.thebftonline.com

Nestlé Central and West Africa launches new Nestlé in society report



It is the first report by Nestlé in the Central and West Africa Region (CWAR) that provides insight into the company’s progress in the areas of nutrition, water and environmental and social sustainability in the region.

“We have been present in Central and West Africa for almost 60 years and remain committed to this region of limitless possibilities,” said Kais Marzouki, Market Head for Nestlé CWAR.

“Behind each Nestlé product there are farmers, workers, suppliers, distributors and retailers who are working hard to ensure that we continue to deliver high-quality, nutritious and tasty food and beverages to over 350 million consumers daily. Through this report, we recognise their support and commitment to our company.

“This report also aims to provide our stakeholders with insight of how we are meeting our societal commitments, the progress we have made over the years and the challenges we face,” he added.

Nestlé CWAR is continuing to meet its pledges, which are part of the 39 commitments that the Nestlé Group aims to meet by 2020 or earlier, to support its long-term goal of Creating Shared Value. This is the company’s way of doing business that aims to provide opportunities and improve livelihoods for the communities in which it operates, while developing its own activities.

For example in 2015, Nestlé CWAR delivered 57.5 billion servings of fortified food and beverages in the region to address the prevalent health issue of the lack of micronutrients that are missing from people’s diets.

In the same year more than 19,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire were trained on good agricultural practices as part of the Nescafé Plan. Over 32,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and 6,500 farmers in Ghana were also trained as part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which aims to increase farmers’ profitability and produce high-quality cocoa.

Simultaneously, Nestlé CWAR continues to improve sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene services across the region. In Côte d’Ivoire, over 280,000 people now have access to clean and safe water and more than 240,000 have benefitted from hygiene awareness training.

Across the company’s operations, GHG emissions were reduced by 20% between 2010-2015. At its Agbara factory in Nigeria, the tri-generation power plant generates electrical power as prime energy, while recycling the heat generated from its exhaust gases produces chilled water and hot water. This has cut CO2 emissions by 5,000 tonnes per year since its construction in 2012.

Nestlé CWAR has also promoted gender balance in the workplace. As well as increasing the employment of women in management positions by 10% across the region, the company launched the Nestlé CWAR Parental Policy to provide a conducive environment for employees who breastfeed. Established standards include a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave, with a right to extend leave for up to six months for all primary carers of newborns, including male employees and adoptive parents.

Download ReportNestlé in society 2015 report

Parliament of Ghana Approves $2 billion Cocoa Syndicated Loan


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Parliament has given the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) the green light to go for a 2 billion dollar syndicated loan to finance the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2016/17 crop season.
However, payback of the loan hinges on the ability of COCOBOD to purchase 900,000 metric tonnes of cocoa within the period.

E-agriculture Strategy Guide From the FAO and ITU


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E-agriculture is about designing, developing and applying innovative ways to use ICTs in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture. E-agriculture offers a wide range of solutions to some agricultural challenge and holds great potential in promoting sustainable agriculture while protecting the environment and finding an effective way to feed the world’s population.

Setting in place a national e-agriculture strategy is an essential first step for any country planning on using ICTs for agriculture. Yet, most countries have yet to adopt a strategic approach in making the best use of ICT developments in agriculture. E-agriculture strategies will help to rationalize both financial and human resources, and address holistically the ICT opportunities and challenges of the agricultural sector while generating new revenues and improving the lives of people in rural communities. It will also help ensure that the goals of national agricultural plans are achieved.

The E-agriculture Strategy Guide, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Telecommunication Union provides a framework for countries in developing their national e-agriculture strategies.

These strategies would include an e-agriculture vision, an action plan, and a framework by which results can be monitored and evaluated. Like all strategies and plans, the outcomes of these processes are not static and changes in a country’s strategic context will require a dynamic approach to updating the strategy so that it remains relevant.

This guide consists of three parts to developing a national e-agriculture strategy: the vision development process; action plan; monitoring and evaluation. Adopting a national approach to e-agriculture will result in improved livelihoods and incomes for people living in rural communities

Content Courtesy: ICTworks