MDP Maanibe on Ghana Field Experience

Hello from Ghana, West Africa! For the past three and a half weeks, our team, partnered with Minnesota based Picture Impact, has met with stakeholders in various agricultural value chains across Northern Ghana, to learn about agricultural contracting and to field test and iterate on a picture based contracting tool to aid in understanding of contracts and agreements. These stakeholders include agricultural businesses, rural farmers, women’s groups, agricultural processors, farmer associations, multi-stakeholder industry associations, middle men, development organisations, and government institutions. Our aim is rapidly gain as much insight as possible into agricultural contracts, the processes by which those contracts are made, and associated issues with them, especially how illiteracy and lack of understanding affects contractual agreements.

The picture based tool we are field testing was designed to act as a supplement to formal written contracts, by serving as an illustrated guide to outline terms and agreements found within the written document. Because the three northern regions of Ghana have relatively high illiteracy rates (in some areas by as much as 75%), it is the perfect place to gain insight and continue to update and contextualise the product. All interviewees have shown enthusiasm for the development and introduction to such an idea, as many of them are already using picture based supplements for various trainings and manuals with farmers and women's groups.

So far, we have spent one week in Accra (Ghana’s capital city), two weeks in Tamale, Northern Region, and are now in the Upper West region’s capital city, Wa. Upon completion, we will head back down to Accra to handle any last minute interviews, code data, and begin to compile our final report, recommendations and conclusions.

Our most interesting, and perhaps insightful, interview came yesterday when we met with a local farmer based in the Wa East District. He was able to share multiple stories of failed contracts, attempts to access larger markets, and how the middle men are keeping rural farmers from signing formal contracts with larger agricultural commodity buyers. Hopefully, this weeks coming interviews will prove as useful!

Sydney Maanibe
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