(Proposal for your Attention)
Dear, Madam Justice Sophia Akuffo,
Congratulations on your appointment as the chairperson of the National Covid-19 Relieve Fund. The fund set up by the government to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable in Ghana. We pray to God to grant you the wisdom to allocate funds such that its ripple effect on the economy is felt in the remotest hamlet in Ghana to the expectation of Ghanaians.
Madam, every developed nation on earth was and still being built on sound and practical ideas. Practical ideas that solve present challenges and also address the long-term progress of the country, particularly economic development. Based on that, we take heed of the president’s charge to all Ghanaians not to be spectators but citizens out of our uncontestable love for our country, Ghana. We have also heard from several sources that you are a woman whose love and passion for the country is pure and sincere, a trait common to us all.
Madam, the destitution, plight, and helplessness of Kayeyi girls alarms us, and the events preceding the partial lockdown heightened this uneasiness. Kindly crave our indulgence to give a little background. Reports have widely circulated in the media on March 30, concerning some Kayeyi girls crammed in container-truck with their babies bound for the northern region, because of the impending partial lockdown of Accra. We find it immoral and unconscionable for a society to sit aloof and pretend what is happening to these sisters and daughters of ours is normal. It is shameful and a blight on our national pride as Ghanaians. Apart from this, even though accurate data on the number of kayayis is currently unavailable, particularly in Accra, research postulates an estimated number of 160,000 Kayeyis (Streifel, 2015). These energetic women migrate from the three northern regions to Greater Accra with the primary aim of securing jobs at the market because of the lack of sustainable jobs in the north and coupled with their low educational level. Their influx into Accra not only causes great danger to themselves and their kids but poses other social dangers which, because of time constraints, we are unable to enumerate, but its common knowledge and we believe all of us are aware. They are a remarkable asset to the nation, and looking at their past ordeals and present one exacerbated by the raging pandemic, we suggest you take this up with your new portfolio to marshal all the resources at your disposal to solve this national disgrace permanently. Nevertheless, in an attempt to address or solve this national disgrace, the cardinal question should revolve around “what do we do with them”? (Kayeyis).
Madam, kindly permit us to use the word “beneficiary” instead of the term “Kayayi” for our proceeding discussions because we are of the view the term is derogatory and therefore unsuitable for describing any group of people in our society. The solution we propose could take the form of a scalable model that potentially anchors them in their respective hometowns. A type of model designed to create wealth for the beneficiary in the short-term and the country in the long- term. We, therefore, by this open letter, submit one but multi-faceted proposal for your consideration. We envisage this proposal to be beneficiary-centered, focusing just not eliminating poverty and helplessness but creating generational wealth. In the long-run, the success of this model could be implemented across the entire northern region to benefit more beneficiaries. We are convinced that, wealth this project creates for the first cohort could persuade future migrants from moving to the various cities in the south to live undignified lives we are witnessing today. Below are the components of our proposal:
Create a fund for co-operative agribusiness for beneficiaries.
What is the purpose of the fund?
Madam, we humbly suggest you set aside part of the covid-19 relief fund, group beneficiaries to form a registered cooperative-type agribusiness and acquire, for instance, 500 acres of land in their hometown for them. Procure the services of the Ghana Irrigation Authority to construct a proper solar-powered engineered earth dam to irrigate the land for all year cropping. Beneficiaries should own and operate the business with agricultural support services from extension officers from the ministry of agriculture. The immediate focus of the agribusiness should be on the cultivation of soya beans and rice and, in the immediate future, include other crops like tomatoes and onions. The farm should, as a matter of sustainability, have an on-site rice mill to process, bag, and brand products for the storage or to the market.
What is the market for the products?
Madam, as you might be aware, patronage for Ghana rice in on the rise. The trajectory is pointing to a further increase in the coming years because of the increasing awareness created last year by the media, notably Citifm. Therefore, market access for quality, packaged rice produce from this agribusiness will potentially have automatic market access. Similar arguments could be made for produce such as, onions, and tomatoes. Statistics indicate Ghana imports $ 99.5million worth of tomatoes every year from Burkina Faso (GNA, 26/05/2018), $107million from Niger (Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, 19/10/2018). We believe we could chip out some of these imports to create wealth for beneficiaries when we plant the same variety that these countries plant that receives huge patronage in Ghana. Soybean is quite a new crop in Ghana, cultivated by peasant farmers under rain-fed conditions (MiDA, 2010; Akramov & Malek, 2012). The acreage of soybeans planted in Ghana is woefully small, estimated to be one-third, necessitating massive imports of the remaining two-third to fill the domestic demand (Gage et al., 2012; Eshun et al., 2018).
Madam, apart from the aforementioned automatic market, we recommend an additional three levels that we can deliberately and aggressively create market access for soybeans and other farm products from this agribusiness. First and the biggest, we propose that you facilitate the signing of a memorandum of understanding(MOU) with the government to use its vast purchasing power to guarantee and prioritize the procurement of products from this farm through national food buffer stock company. The procured product could be stored in warehouses for emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic we find ourselves at present or supply to school feeding and free-SHS program. Additionally, facilitate establishing business relationships with poultry and livestock feed milling companies. For instance, Boris-B Company Limited in Ashanti Region could purchase the soybeans to manufacture affordable soybean feed for the poultry and livestock industry. The last level considers the long-term prospects of the agribusiness through establishing its edible soybeans oil processing plant that takes advantage of its internal supply. Soya bean residue from the plant could be sold to poultry and livestock feed millers. These market access strategies must rigorously be implemented to optimize wealth for the beneficiaries and the entire Ghanaian economy.
Model Implementation and Sustainability
How to implement and sustain the co-operative model?
Madam, the first ingredient to implementing this project successfully and sustaining it requires that you take a personal interest in the project and own each process during implementation, albeit your busy schedules. The simplest of the myriad of reasons is the humanitarian nature of the project besides the fact that its public funds; the public must derive both direct and indirect benefits from every pesewa spent on their behalf. Often project implementation in Ghana fails primarily because of the lack of interest shown by implementing officers. To avoid this trap, appoint a competent, incorruptible, knowledgeable, and committed implementation officers to supervise implementing the project and must report to you directly. Prior experiences with solid track-record implementing similar projects should take precedence over academic qualifications and certificates. Extension officers from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture should be enlisted to provide technical support to ensure that appropriate technologies, techniques, and viable seeds are employed. Establish research relationships between the agribusiness and local universities to infuse biotechnological innovation and modern product development into business operations. Such links should focus on the processing and manufacturing of farm produce and farm waste into secondary and tertiary products to optimize wealth creation through zero-waste strategy. For example, onion leaves and stalk from soybeans can be converted to livestock feed.
Systems to prevent implementation failure
What are the systems to prevent long term failure?
Madam, quality management, and engineering scarcely form part of the management strategies in most institutions in Ghana, ranging from private, corporate to public lives. This negatively affects the sustainability of every project and program we implement in the country. To guard against long term failure of the proposal, we suggest you establish quality management, particularly a quality policy document that governs every process and activity within the agribusiness. Quality must be the watchword in the daily operations of the business, implying activity(s) and processes must be down by the right people, at the right time, at the right place, with the required skills. Whatever systems, processes, and activities implemented must be subjected to continuous improvement process whatever systems. Progress must be measured against Key Performance Indicators(KPI’s) set. Measuring progress against KPI’s makes much sense because, according to the American Society for Quality(ASQ), “whatever cannot be measured cannot be improved.” Collecting data on every aspect of the business is critical to its success and sustainability. Data collected can be analyzed to diagnose any dysfunctional part of the business system, and corrective and preventive measures instituted to improve outcomes. The lessons learned from the improvement process could provide critical design data for subsequent model design and scaling up to benefit other communities in the north.
Moreover, tie the implementation officer’s remuneration to delivery of KPI’s and fire him/her for the inability to deliver results based on the KPI’s. That is the surest way to ensure value-for-money because contributors to the funds must see results both tangible and credible. Last and most critical of all the measures is to ensure that implementation incorporates the views and concerns of beneficiaries to instill complete ownership by beneficiaries. It is established in Ghana that people attach maximum interest and give undivided attention to things they own, unlike items and properties owned by a legal entity like the government. Madam, we are of the most definite conviction that, if these measures are implemented thoroughly throughout the phases of this project, measurable success could be achieved in the shortest possible time.
What amenities should be included in the agribusiness/farm?
Horace Mann, a 19th-century pioneer of the American public school system, once said: “education is a great equalizer of the condition of men.”. Lack of educational opportunities in their host cities has disadvantaged them for far too long in our society. Although most beneficiaries might have missed on the chance to be educated entirely in their lifetime. What about their children? To make this intervention more attractive, build schools from the day-care center to the junior high school level to educate their children while they engage in their wealth creation activities. Secondly, unmotorable roads are the bane of remote communities in the northern region and, for that matter, the entire rural communities in Ghana. Poor road networks could impede the flow of agro-products from this agribusiness. We propose you liaise with Ghana Highways Authority to construct a proper asphalted road befitting of a modern-day business to service this agribusiness.
What are the expected impact of the model?
Madam, one may argue that this model is not different from the government’s 1-district 1-factory (1DIF) and 1-village 1-dam (1V1D) development programs. Yes, admittedly, to some extent, it is similar and could benefit from the implementation failures that have already been identified to make this model successful and sustainable. However, where this model departs from the government’s original program is the concept of process thinking that links every process within the value chain from cropping, processing/manufacturing to marketing. This ensures that wealth is created each step of the process to the point of consumption. Besides, this model has embedded short and long-term objectives that encapsulate personal and national economic wealth creation strategies.
In the short-term, this strategy will raise the social and economic status of immediate beneficiaries through improved income and dissuade them from coming to the major cities to engage in unbefitting jobs. In the long-run, the improved economic and social conditions of beneficiaries would convince other potential migrants to remain in their hometowns to participate in the economic boom, thereby ensuring continued growth with positive effect, related to the ease on amenities in the big cities, Accra specifically. Their absence in the streets and markets of Ghana eliminates the concept of Kayayi permanently and cleanses the stain in our social fabric since its shameful and unacceptable.
Madam, in concluding, we would like to reiterate the overarching objective of this proposal is to remove the anomalous and social concept of “Kayayie” from our national discourse. It is a blight on our nation’s integrity that could quickly be dealt with a strategic agribusiness project that focuses on wealth creation. You now occupy a unique position in our national history to help permanently execute this important task that has escaped our attention throughout the years. I hope our proposal would meet your favorable consideration. Thank you
Alex Kwasi Kumi is currently a Ph.D. student at Donghua University, Shanghai, China studying Materials Science and Engineering. His passion lies in large-scale mechanized agriculture development and economic development strategies. Email: email@example.com
Emmanuel De-graft Quarshie graduated from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai, with a Master of Arts Degree in Regional Economics. His passion lies in economic strategies that enhances national and more specifically regional development. Email:firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com