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Promoting Economic Justice Food Security and Agricultural Governance in Ghana

Augustina Danaa in Northern Ghana. Credit: Adam Patterson/Oxfam

At a glance

Working from grassroots to global level for greater investment in smallholder agriculture.

Overview

We are working to improve the food security, nutrition and resilience of vulnerable small-scale agriculture producers, particularly women. The programme focuses on: enhancing the capacity of national and local government and small-scale farmers to play a policy-influencing role; working with the private sector; increasing food production by supporting farmers' access to agriculture inputs and technologies; and enhancing the purchasing power of poor farmers through integrating financial services into agriculture production. The programme also promotes secure and equitable land rights as precondition for women smallholders to benefit from investments, and for Ghanaian society at large to ensure inclusive rural development. This is part of the Fiscal Accountability for Inequality Reduction (FAIR) global programme. 

Our approach

The programme's overall aim is to catalyse increased quantity and quality of public and private investment in agriculture. This will help secure, improve and sustain the productivity, resilience and wellbeing of smallholder farmers, their households and communities in Ghana.

We work to consolidating and enhancing the impact of government and donor commitments in support of smallholder agriculture in Ghana and beyond, through:

  • Influencing for increased investment in agriculture that benefits poor farmers.
  • Tracking agriculture budgets, and convening platforms for policy influencing and good agriculture governance.
  • Building local, national, regional and global alliances to promote investments in agriculture targeting women and other smallholder farmers. 

The programme continues to build on the success of project work at community level and has led to the development of two new initiatives: 'System Innovation on Women Economic Empowerment (SIWEE)' and 'Protecting Fisheries Livelihood's'. 

Working through partnerships

Oxfam's community-based programme partners are Partners in Rural Empowerment and Development (PARED), Presbyterian Agric Station-Garu (PAS-G), Nandom Deanery Integrated Rural Development Programme (NANDIRDEP), and Professional Network-North (ProNet). National-level influencing partners include: Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition, SEND Ghana, Civil Society Coalition on Land, Women in Law and Development Africa-Ghana, Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and Friends of the Nation.  International organizations we collaborate with include Action Aid, Christian Aid, CARE and SNV.

Inequality and economic growth

Despite a turbulent history, Ghana has enjoyed relative political stability since 1992 and is often regarded as an oasis of peace and stability in West Africa. While this stability and the country's natural resources have fostered economic growth, the benefits of this have not been fairly distributed: 24% of the population still live below the poverty line, and poverty in northern districts has increased. Ghana's stark and rising inequalities are due to its export-led growth model, which concentrates investment in mining, oil and select agricultural sectors. While farmers of cash crops for export in the cocoa-growing belt of southern Ghana have experienced significant gains, crops which are critical for the livelihoods of poorer people in northern Ghana have received little attention. Poor farmers have limited access to modern farming technology, fertilizers, improved seeds or credit and extension services. Production is inefficient, and it is estimated that around 30% of crops are lost due to poor post-harvest management.

Impacts of shocks (e.g. floods, droughts) as well as the long-term incremental effects of climate change and environmental degradation are increasing the risks faced by poor farmers in northern Ghana. Irrigation is limited and agriculture is heavily reliant on rainfall, which has become erratic due to climate change. The country's capacity to manage the impacts of natural disasters and climate change is weak, and the worst-affected people will be the already poor and vulnerable households who cannot afford to have a bad harvest or lose their crops to disasters.

Three in five Ghanaians depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods, and the majority of them are women. Yet despite this, women small-scale producers have very limited opportunities to participate in (let alone lead) agricultural policy making and budget processes, which are dominated by political elites. This means that policies and budgets often ignore the needs of women farmers, who have no way to hold to hold the decision makers to account. Ultimately the root cause of the failure to adequately support women's economic empowerment in agriculture in Ghana is this lack of voice, participation and accountability.

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