Programme profile

MADE: Market Development for Northern Ghana

Programme Index Listing

Main implementer
Nathan Associates
Other implementers
2013 - 2020
Total budget
USD $19 million
Annual budget
USD $2.7 million
External links
Ghana MADE website
BEAM blog: MADE & gender
FCDO Tracker

Project description / objective

To increase the incomes and resilience of poor farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs in Ghana’s Northern Savannah Economic Zone by addressing key market system failures. 

MADE worked directly with agribusinesses, facilitating and supporting the adoption of commercially viable and sustainable business models designed to improve operational capacity, productivity and competitiveness, particularly at the interface with small farmers (input service bundling and aggregation / offtake).

Market systems focus

Market failures in the north of Ghana are evident from weak linkages between firms and between the public and private sector, and multiple information failures affecting firms across the board. These failures included lack of information about market prices and opportunities, about technical options, and research by public sector organisations. 

At the producer level, coordination failures were the norm, with a lack of service providers to make physical and advisory services available to farmers. In addition, women’s activities and income opportunities in northern Ghana were severely constrained due to cultural norms. This meant that women and youth had limited access to key inputs such as land, capital and other production inputs.

Agro-inputs, aggregation and outgrower

Ghana’s farming sector in the North had been left behind and remained in a largely subsistence mode, with small-scale farmers relying on traditional labour-intensive methods. These low input-low output systems delivered uncompetitive products and limited the ability for growers to connect with markets. Specifically, smallholder farmers in the North of Ghana lacked technical know-how and had limited access to improved inputs, services and markets.  

Programme interventions

Develop new business models for agribusinesses

Developed a commercially viable business model (called the Advanced Model) to recruit and retain smallholder out-growers, built around the supply of affordable bundles of inputs and services. To achieve this, the programme supported agribusinesses to enhance business skills and tools (including through a business accelerator), deepen their networking opportunities, and access investment and working capital, therefore enhancing their productivity and capacity to consolidate and expand their outgrower schemes.

Facilitate commercial partnerships between private sector stakeholders

Promoted and facilitated stronger, more supportive relationships between agribusinesses and value chain actors (B2B) that build capacity to deliver against business plan targets and that led to commercial benefits seen by all parties. Commercial partnerships allowed for sustainable provision of mechanisation services, water management and irrigation services, storage and further processing.

Promote the use of farm enterprise advisory services

Supported agribusinesses to provide farm enterprise advisory services working directly with smallholder farmers (B2F). Farm enterprise advisors provided first- and last-mile market link for smallholder farmers located in areas away from commercial centres and provided a wide range of services, from land use planning and preparation at the beginning of the season, through to crop storage and marketing support at the end of the season.

Mobilise women and youth to participate further in the sector

Besides targeting female smallholder farmers, the programme undertook sensitisation and training to significantly improve women’s participation as farm enterprise advisors and agribusiness owners. The programme also ran an internship programme for recent graduates of agricultural colleges to provide opportunities for recent graduates to gain first-hand experience of working for the private sector; change perceptions within the industry of the value of recruiting young professionals to farm advisory positions; and helping reach out to rural farming communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

MADE was able to expand the supply and uptake of key inputs and services by helping agribusinesses to see the commercial potential of working with smallholder farmers via out-grower schemes. More specifically, key results included:

  • 114 agribusinesses adopted new business practices facilitated by MADE
  • 139,000 smallholder farmers, 43 per cent of whom are women, were able to access new inputs and services through MADE partner agribusinesses, building their productivity and resilience
  • 109,867 smallholder farmers and rural enterprises achieved higher sales and turnover, 44 per cent of whom are women
  • The programme average increase in income for smallholder farmers working with MADE partners has risen by £658 since 2015
  • Private sector investment in the operating models reached £54.9 million over the first six years of MADE intervention

Phase 1 MADE partners expanded their outreach by 70,000 smallholder farmers since their engagement with MADE ended.

Updated April 2021