Protect and Invest in Farmers from Ghana

Oct 14, 2009

A postcard from Protect and Invest in Farmers from Ghana

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!


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Project Leader

Heidi McAnnally-Linz

New Haven, CT United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Protect and Invest in Farmers from Ghana