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Category: Agriculture

Market Facilitation and the Benefits of NGOs

Market Facilitation and the Benefits of NGOs

I don’t usually write follow up posts, though I received a thought-provoking comment from longtime Develop Economies reader Ed Center on my post about the negative impacts of NGOs on economic development in Northern Ghana. It is worth quoting in full: This insight then begs the question; why are you working for an NGO in Ghana? I have a friend in Cambodia who went to an excellent school that provides education and job skills to street kids. The thing is,…

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The Scourge of NGOs

The Scourge of NGOs

Right now I am up in Tamale working with the ADVANCE office here.  I am meeting with maize farmers to help them think about how to invest in yellow maize production.  There is a financial institution that is providing credit to farmers in an effort to spur investment in yellow maize and soya beans.  They are offering a loan facility at 18% annual interest, which is much lower than the typical 30% that financial institutions offer for agriculture loans.  Being…

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Commodity Speculation, Rising Food Prices, and Goldman Sachs

Commodity Speculation, Rising Food Prices, and Goldman Sachs

Old habits die hard, and the motor patterns in my fingers that brought me to the Drudge Report so many times when I worked in a cubicle in Boston once again led me to page the other day.  Living up to its reputation for sensationalism, it featured a headline recently about the escalation of food prices around the world.  Unfortunately, while Drudge is usually over-the-top, rising food prices are no laughing matter.  In 2008, the rising cost of our daily…

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A Brief History of Fresh Pineapple Exports in Ghana

A Brief History of Fresh Pineapple Exports in Ghana

Yesterday I met with the founder of a pineapple exporting company in Ghana.  He is one of the first pineapple exporters in the country, opening his operation in 1985.  He is one of the founding members of Seafreight Pineapple Exporters Group (SPEG), and is the organization’s first chairman.  He was trained as a pharmacist and originally went into pineapple export because he needed to acquire foreign exchange in order to purchase pharmaceuticals from abroad for his pharmacy business, and realized…

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Let Them Eat Cash: The New Approach to Food Aid

Let Them Eat Cash: The New Approach to Food Aid

A few years ago, I used to subscribe to Harper’s Magazine.  The lead article in one of the issues was titled “Let them eat cash: Can Bill Gates turn hunger into profit?”  It seemed interesting, but couldn’t really understand much of it at the time, since I didn’t know anything about food aid policy, or development in general.  Just the other day I met someone who is working with the World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress program out here in…

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The Importance of Having a Market in Agriculture

The Importance of Having a Market in Agriculture

The pineapple sector in Ghana is interesting.  Unlike maize, rice, and, to a lesser extent, soyabean, which are all considered staple crops, fruits, including pineapple, mango, and citrus (oranges) are cash crops for which there is an export market.  In mango, for example, there are a few companies and independent traders (usually Lebanese) with export markets in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.  More often than not, exporters in the country are either foreigners or Ghanaians who have lived…

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Seeing the Pineapple Supply Chain Come Full Circle

Seeing the Pineapple Supply Chain Come Full Circle

For the last week I’ve been in Techiman, a city of 80,000 people and the leading market town in Ghana.  Because it is situated near the Tano River, it has historical significance as a major trade route and is now home to the second-largest market in West Africa.  Trucks from Mali and Niger come down here to distribute products to the rest of Ghana and other countries in West Africa.  I am up here to meet some maize aggregators (middlemen)…

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Invisible Barriers: Land Tenure for Women in Ghana

Invisible Barriers: Land Tenure for Women in Ghana

I attended a gender sensitivity training put on by a partner of ADVANCE. The training was given to two offices with whom I’m trying to work, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet and get to know everyone at the training. I had a lot of pre-conceived notions about what a gender sensitivity training would entail, and thought it might be good fodder for some jokes. As it turns out, how the program impacts men and…

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Small-Scale Pineapple Processors Discover Ruthless Capitalism

Small-Scale Pineapple Processors Discover Ruthless Capitalism

I have spent the last week in the region around Accra meeting with small-scale pineapple processors.  ADVANCE has six offices, each with about six field business facilitators (FBF).  I have been working with Collins, the pineapple FBF out of the office in Tema, the main port town a half hour outside of Accra, the capital city.  He put together an association of pineapple juice manufacturers who are all buying fresh pineapple directly from farmers in the area, processing them in…

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The Road to Agricultural Self-Sufficiency in Africa

The Road to Agricultural Self-Sufficiency in Africa

In a new book, Calestous Juma makes the case that Africa can ‘feed itself in a generation.’  Self-sufficiency is ideal, but there are some major roadblocks.  Here is the problem: Global food production has rocketed in recent decades but has stagnated in many parts of Africa, despite the continent having “abundant” arable land and labour, says Professor Juma. He estimates that while food production has grown globally by 145% over the past 40 years, African food production has fallen by…

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