An update from Tamale
We are excited to share some results of the first year and information on current activities taking place in agricultural communities in northern Ghana. When Rob last wrote, the 2009 agricultural season was starting and IPA was getting ready to support farmers by offering rainfall insurance and grants of capital. During that season, 260 farmers were offered free rainfall insurance, and take up was 100%. 235 farmers received grants that were delivered to them throughout the farming season (and based on their own personal planting schedule) to assist with agricultural investments. Other farmers received free insurance plus capital injections.
Some preliminary results from the February 2010 follow-up survey indicate that farmers who received both insurance and capital spent 47% more on fertilizer. They also cultivated 23% more land and they increased the proportion of hired labor. Having both capital and insurance has impacted the farmers’ expenditures and savings as well. These individuals were 23% more likely to have electricity in the house than the control group, and 9% more likely to have a formal savings account.
The farmers who received rainfall insurance spent 11% more on fertilizer, and they cultivated 26.5% more land. Furthermore, farmers who received insurance missed fewer meals and sent their children to school more frequently.
During the most recent agricultural season, 729 farmers were offered rainfall insurance and, again, take-up was quite high at all insurance rates offered. 363 farmers received capital injections of GHC 350.00 each.
Under the rainfall insurance policy, one out of the five rainfall stations (Pong Tamale Rainfall Station) attracted a payout. The rainfall station recorded eight consecutive wet days from the 7th to the 14th of August 2010, so all farmers insured under this station will receive a payout of GHC 20.00 per acre. There are 125 farmers who had insured their farmlands under the Pong Tamale Rainfall Station, for a total of 785 acres insured.
Currently, we are conducting a series of focus groups to learn more about what specific technologies are the most useful for farmers and what barriers they face to adopting them. Our efforts to form partnerships with local insurance companies for eventual distribution and scaling of the insurance product continue, and we remain optimistic about the impact of rainfall insurance on farmers in the region.
On June 5 I visited farmers in the small towns surrounding Tamale, the northern region of Ghana which is more desert-like than its lush neighbors to the south. The purpose of this project is to bring farmers out of subsistence farming and protect them from weather calamities. IPA is testing whether farmers will invest more in their farms if they have access to capital or insurance. We visited ten farmers – half who were receiving insurance money and half who were receiving capital, not based on rain. The insurance schedule is as follows: during the rainy season which is June, July, August, and September, farmers receive insurance money if there are 18 or more days of rain or 8 or less days of rain. The amount is based on their acreage and the number away from 18 or 8. It encourages people to produce on a greater scale in order to move away from only subsistence farming. The rains are late coming and the city is dry, hot, and agitated. The end of May is already late, but beginning of June – June 5th even and no rain? Too, too late. As we plod through each village, sweating profusely and searching for some shade – the IPA team and I all just look at each other, waiting for the heat to break and the rains to fall, and for mother nature to help these families out. The stark difference between the power of climate control in my life and the dependence on nature in Tamale is astonishing, how controlled my life is from the realities of nature.
In this visit in particular I felt like I met people who the organization was really reaching. Often my visits coincide with a song and dance about the Great Westerner granting the Lowly NGO a visit. But here, we went straight to farmers and they just looked so tired. Many NGO workers end up being the best paid members of a community, but agriculture is the largest employer. These farmers were unmoved by white people’s presence and just looked like – hey, I’m trying my best here, can you let me go do it now?
I’m eager to learn about IPA’s results – whether capital or insurance helped farmers produce more, or if they use the money for other needs outside of farming. Their experiment is run by an incredible project leader (Rob from England) who worked diligently to protect the purity of their experiment, engage with the community, and successfully obtain scientific direction on how to help agriculture in developing countries. I wish the team and farmers luck and if you have any questions feel free to comment!
Farmers in northern Ghana sometimes struggle to grow enough food each year for their families to thrive. But many believe that these farmers could prosper if only they could afford to invest more, and if they did not face such risks from unpredictable rains. IPA is helping nearly 400 farmers to invest more this year by providing capital injections, as well as an innovative rainfall insurance scheme.
Supported by donations like yours, IPA has been distributing capital injections to farmers since mid-April this year. The grants are being given out according to each farmer’s personalized timetable, so that the funds are received when they are needed most. We’ve also awarded many of these farmers rainfall insurance to protect them from drought and excess rain: this takes effect at the most critical time of the growing season, from June to September.
“Being introduced to IPA’s rainfall insurance policy really opened our eyes to the risks we face as farmers.” – farmer in Savelugu-Nanton district, Ghana
This year is just the start for IPA’s work with farmers in northern Ghana. Please help us to expand our capital injections and insurance program to more farmers next year. And let us know what you think by leaving feedback in our comments section!
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