Hello from Ghana, where I had the privilege earlier this week to observe the fruits of a great development success story in the Eastern Region of Ghana. A faith-based organization conceived, proposed, designed, and implemented a project to introduce fruit trees to smallholder farmers as a path to economic growth and sustainability. USAID through the use of PL480 Title II Food Aid resources supported this concept from 1997 until 2006. Visiting with these orange and mango farmers five years after USAID’s support ended, the success of our cooperative investment is self-evident. The farmers now sustain themselves and contribute largely to Ghana’s economy.
The Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) brought me to the farms in Somanya, Sikaben, and Akyem Sekyere where, originally, 1-3 acre plots were allotted to 5,424 different farmers in the region. Fourteen years after this program started, these farmers have organized into associations and are selling their fruit to local processing plants. Many of the farmers have expanded to dozens of acres.
The families have become frontline actors in a story of economic growth. More young people are finding farming an attractive possibility for a financially secure future.
I had the opportunity to hear testimonies of a village chief, a member of parliament who accompanied me, and ordinary farmers - men and women- about the transformative work led by ADRA with USAID’s support. The relationships developed and the trust built over many years enabled us to effectively connect smallholder farmers with local small businesses to complete the value chain.
Too often these stories are hidden under the fruit trees. The next time you're in France, the UK, the Netherlands or Italy (or Ghana!) I urge you to try the fresh pineapple ginger juice from the farmers and factories of Ghana.
If you have found similar success stories, please share them with us at fbci (at) usaid.gov
Ari Alexander is Director for the Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and the Senior Advisor of NGO Partnerships and Global Engagement at USAID.