Ecobank Ghana Limited has provided a $155,000 facility to support maize farmers and aggregators of Yedent Agro Company Limited in the Bono Region to expand their businesses.
The facility, comprised four corn dehuskers valued at $50,000 and a Shacman double-decker articulator head and trailer acquired at $105,000.
Speaking at the event which was on the theme: “Inclusive and Sustainable Finance for Agribusiness Value Chain”, Mr Daniel Sackey, the Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana Limited, said the Bank remained committed to positively impacting the communities they operated in and had chosen to support agribusiness value chains.
He added that the Bank was doing that in partnership with government agencies such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) through their Extension Officers and GIRSAL, private sector actors like Yedent Agro Company, and other international development partners.
Mr Sackey noted that, “to further show our commitment to developing agribusiness value chains”, Ecobank Ghana had a dedicated agribusiness desk that focused on the development of agribusiness by developing market relations and increasing access to finance.
He said Ecobank Ghana, therefore, financed the acquisition of those facilities for the benefit of the aggregators and about 6,000 out-growers and smallholder farmers, comprising 60 per cent women from 83 communities within the Bono Region.
Mr Sackey emphasised the dehuskers were intended to provide those communities with a mechanized way to dehusk the maize they produced, saying, that was a more efficient way to process the maize produced by farmers for the market.
He added, “our women especially, will be spared the long hours they spend to dehusk and shell the maize manually”, saying, the inefficiencies associated with those traditional ways of handling farm produce contributed significantly to the high level of post-harvest losses experienced in Ghana.
Madam Justina Owusu-Banahene, the Bono Regional Minister said the financial institutions in Ghana tended to lend a disproportionately lower share of their loan portfolios to farmers due to high-risk factors associated with farming in the country.
Hence, “Ecobank Ghana’s bold step to break such barriers was laudable and worthy of emulation by other banks”, she stated.
“Not only did Ecobank Ghana understands the vision to transform Ghana’s agro-processing sector but also to offer its support in many ways by providing critically needed capital for the success of most farmers in the region and beyond”.
Madam Owusu-Banahene commended the bank for its continuous effort in supporting the private sector industries and appealed to other banks to emulate that and tailor their lending facilities to support farmers to expand agricultural output to safeguard the country’s food security.
Mr Asante Krobea, the Technical Advisor to the Minister, MoFA said the government’s investment in Agriculture since the last five years had resulted in higher productivity of maize and other crops.
He cited in 2016, Ghana produced just 1.7 million metric tons of maize, but now, it had risen to three million metric tons.
Mr Krobea explained that the move by Ecobank was complementing government’s efforts through MoFA to adequately resource farmers with the supply of inputs and other materials – viable seeds and seedlings in addition to the implementation of programmes like cocoa rehabilitation to boost agriculture in the country.
Mr Krobea said there was an existing government’s arrangement to absorb 50 per cent of interest covering loans contracted by aggregators through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
Mr Samuel Kwame Ntim, the Chief Executive Officer of Yedent expressed appreciation to Ecobank Ghana for the funding support that had gradually brought the company its current level of success.