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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Status of Akyem Agribusiness Growth Initiative (AAGI)

Status of Akyem Agribusiness Growth Initiative (AAGI) 
Since the commencement of its surface mining operations in the Akyem District, Sikabour Crystal Mining Ltd (SCML) has been conscious to discharge its social responsibility to the communities of South Akyem. In line with this, SCML is sponsoring the Akyem Agribusiness Growth Initiative is an implementing partner of this project together with other local mining organizations.
The programme aims to stimulate long-term economic growth and to improve the livelihoods of the community of South Akyem. It will achieve this by building the capacity to increase productivity and the standard of commodities. It also aims to develop the commercial agriculture skill of this institution and to link to financing sources and market. This is with the intension of creating a vibrant local economy that will ultimately create job and income opportunities independent of the mine. The AAGI project has strategically been designed to be implemented in two phases. The Phase One of the project began in March 2005 and ended in August 2005. It consisted of:
  • High Impact Training (HIT) covering agricultural productivity, farmer business skills, and business management skills. 
  • Identification, analysis and recommendation of long term agribusiness growth and financing initiatives.
The objectives of this phase were to:
  • Improve farmers’ general and practical knowledge in production technique
  • Improve farmers’ knowledge on new market demands and opportunities
  • Introduce farmers’ to new crop and varieties that have high market potential
A total number of 1205 people have been trained successfully under the HIT by the end of Phase One. Following the remarkable completion of Phase One, African Connections was requested in November 2006 to proceed with the Interim Phase of AAGI Phase Two. It features a redesign of the HIT programme to train farmers on best practices including export requirements and industrial procurement standards.
About 2150 participants are expected to be trained by the time this phase ends in December 2007. The interim Phase focuses on strengthening groups and farmer associations in the production of five crops (chilli pepper, soybean, ginger, maize, and plantain) which have high productivity potentials and ready markets.
This intermediate intervention is to allow these farmers to take advantage of the available market in the upcoming farming season while structures are being put in place for the commencement of phase Two. The interim phase also seeks to link the local farmer associations to the local rural banks and other identified financing sources. They will equally be integrated into the regional, national and international supply chains. 
The design is proceeding steadily and progressively. African Connections had made considerable negotiations with input suppliers and potential buyers on behalf of the farmers. Several companies have offered to supply seeds and necessary inputs to the farmers and many others are prepared to serve as ready market for their produce. Through such negotiations the Grain and Legumes Development Board has expressed willingness to work with some of the groups to develop seed bank/seed growing units locally. This will ensure the availability of seeds at low cost for farmers.
Everything is on course to enable this phase achieve its objectives, which are to:
  • Train members of the association to build association capacity and improve group dynamics
  • Improve farmer productivity and increase business skills
  • Link associations to identified potential funding sources
  • Link associations to identified buyers including processors, exporters, commercial and institutional buyers (e.g. school)
By strengthening the farmer groups and association, the project will be able to build economies of large scale to leverage the market and improve the incomes of the local farmers.
The Phase Two of the project will start by the end of the Interim Phase in November 2008.

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