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Ghana Puts US Government Funds into New Agriculture Projects

A Ghanaian government agency is channeling funds for targeted development projects. Ghana’s Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) is rebuilding schools and other buildings destroyed by floods with money from an independent agency of the US Government, the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The US agency has so far provided Accra with $547 million in grants for poverty reduction programs. The funds have mostly been channeled into agriculture and infrastructure. Martin Esson-Benjamin is the chief executive officer of the MIDA. He told Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter, Joana Mantey, in Accra, Ghana, that under the program, credits have also been given to smallholder farmers in an effort to enhance their productivity.

“Before we can give them credit,” he said, “they should have gone through training and we should have linked them to a bank which is going to give them the loan. Then we have to have access to their farms by providing feeder roads and trunk roads.”

Ghana was selected to receive MCC funds based on its private sector growth and its commitment to democratic governance. The government then came up with its own plan on how to use the funds for development projects.

Improving the sector involves putting structures in place to increase the profit of farmers as well as bring improvements in their daily lives.

“There are places which are not accessible by road and therefore you need a ferry. We are adding a ferry between Adorso and Achiaman located between the northern and southern shores of Volta Lake. We also want to bring some rural development activities to them. [Sometimes] there is no access to sanitation activities -- no toilets, no drinking water, no electricity, and no schools for the kids. These are what we are providing for these farming communities,” Esson-Benjamin said.

“The schools are overpopulated,” he said, “but they are under trees and they have not got adequate classrooms. We are refurbishing them and bringing furniture into the classrooms and ensuring that we have tanks that will bring water to the kids.”

Ghana will receive MCA funds for five years. Esson-Benjamin said beneficiary communities are being taught how to continue after Ghana is weaned off the MCA funds.

“We are teaching them how they can have access to good markets and make money; how they can improve their own livelihoods, giving them the infrastructure they need. And with the banks supporting them and their knowledge base increased, they will now look at farming as a business and make it more sustainable. We have to ensure that the seeds that we have sown, grow and germinate."