Agriculture used to be the largest contributor to the Ghanaian economy contributing 31.8% to the economy in terms of GDP in 2009 but saw a fall in 2015 to 19%.
The World Bank’s “Growing Africa: Unlocking the potential of Agribusiness” report projects Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses creating a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their capital base, have access to electric power, better technology and irrigated lands to grow high value nutritious foods.
With current policies, programs and a growing enabling environment that encourages investments, individuals and entities are more willing to enter and enjoy the agricultural space despite its risky nature. This creates a perfect hitch in this current tide to cause some economic revolution.
What could be new or so exciting?
The youth in Ghana are willingly entering into the space in an attempt to change the face of the sector from the hoe-cutlass tattered dressed old farmer to the young, smiling modern equipment user producing the right things for the right people. Clearly understanding and applying the 4 M’s and P’s of business while using technology to give it a boost.
Having zeal and conceiving a great idea is only a minute part of the accomplishment train. Reason the entry of established entities into the space is a timely intervention.
Here’s why; like the saying goes, “you place your money where your mouth is”. By this, these entities are not only listening and appreciating brilliant ideas, but are actually taking steps to bring these ideas into fruition. Through capacity building exercises and actually financing the business till growth stage, these entities seeing the potentials these starts-up actually invest their monies into the double risky agricultural- entrepreneurial space and try their possible best to ensure the ventures succeed.
A classical case would be the Kosmos Energy Ghana scenario where the company set up a centre in the agric space outside its original oil zone to groom young intelligent individuals willing to make an impact. These individuals who form teams and work together over a rigorous 9-month period leave the centre’s challenge fully developed and ready to take up the world’s challenge.
Over the past two years, the Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC) through its Kosmos Innovation Challenge (www.kosmosinnovationcenter.com) has financed 4 start-ups with a total sum of US $200,000 as initial capital as well as incubation space at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST). These start-ups are namely:
Tro-tro Tractor Limited set up by a 4-man team focuses primarily on providing tractor services to farmers. Their tech element is the ability of the farmer to request their services digitally and online.
Ghalani which is female led and set up by a 2 member team wants to also tackle farm management problems such as record keeping, input sourcing and the like.
Agro-Innova’s all men squad brands itself as the poultry farmer’s best friend and is interested in providing an electronic management system that allows poultry farmers in Ghana manage their farm activities seamlessly and effortlessly.
And finally there’s Qualitrace which is a true representation of gender balance and darers and is using track-and-trace technology to enable farmers independently identify the authenticity of agrochemicals.
Before you think that’s all, many other teams were birthed under the Innovation Centre but found their wings and footing outside the challenge and are making tremendous strides in the agricultural space. Notable among these are:
AgroCenta, a team led by two boisterous men is an agricultural logistics company that has through hard work and great strides gone on to win a lot of awards and other funding options excelling in their chosen area of operation.
Anitrack, another start up making massive waves in the animal space has set itself aside to help livestock owners effectively manage their animals from tracking their location, to detecting theft as well as early detection of sickness to allow early treatment. This three member amazing team also female led secured funding as well as a year incubation from MEST.
And finally but not least, there’s Complete Farmer. Another female led business venture also started by 4 amazing individuals who after identifying the needs of the mid to high income earners who want to enter the agribusiness space are seeking to provide solutions to help them enter the space and start their agribusinesses as seamlessly as possible. The identified challenges include credible access to technical information, expertise and resources. It must be noted that the targeted market niche are time constrained as well. As part of their solution, the Complete Farmer team are helping these individuals actually start their farms and monitor their investments by the use of a platform, right from production to farm management all through to post-harvest and the market phase.
Coming up with this innovative idea while in the KIC challenge, the team managed to catch the eye of Premium Bank who decided to fund them and turn the idea into a business and as such are currently in incubation at MEST too.
Start-ups are not the only sub-sector enjoying growth and change; Agribusiness Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SME’s) are also benefitting from grants, incubation space, capacity building packages and other opportunities from entities like British Council, Beige Capital, Premium Bank, USAID, KIC Business Booster, Mobile Business Clinic (MBC)-Africa, GIPC, Innohub, Injaro, Engineers Without Borders and its likes.
There’s therefore no reason whatsoever at this stage for the agricultural sector not to pick up from where it stopped and start contributing massively to the economy like it used to. Age is therefore no longer a barrier and neither is gender.
After all these examples happening right here in Ghana, it’s crystal clear change is happening and entities are now walking the talk and actually helping the youth make a difference and turn the wheels of fate around.