The Ghana Strategy Support Program (GSSP) is a research, communication, and capacity-strengthening program to build the capabilities of researchers, administrators, policymakers, and members of civil society in Ghana to develop and implement agricultural and rural development strategies. With core funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Ghana, IFPRI launched GSSP as a partnership between Ghana and its development partners.
The overarching objective of the second phase of the Ghana Strategy Support Program (GSSP) is to answer the “how to” question of agricultural transformation. The crux of it is to increase productivity, diversify, and improve competitiveness, all to increase labor productivity in the sector. Previous work of GSSP provided modeling of various scenarios of growth, from which arose two key reference points for promoting not only agricultural growth, but economy-wide growth: (i) smallholder inclusiveness and (ii) food security linked to poverty alleviation. The Government of Ghana’s (GoG) medium term investment plan, METASIP, provides guidance for agricultural investment; however; the government needs support to critically examine various components and implement them. Therefore, the focus of the next phase of GSSP is to conduct research into how the activities of government and private sector in key areas can be best designed to support agricultural transformation and achieve desired and projected benefits from growth. The overarching question that is being addressed by the research agenda is what role the government should play in developing agriculture.
IFPRI’s approach is to use a combination of modeling, econometrics and case studies in its research. The three methodologies complement one another to yield an understanding which is both broad enough to be representative of the country, as well as deep enough to offer insights necessary to develop interventions. Placing local findings in a broader context is important. IFPRI is in a good position to bring its global learning on issues relevant for Ghana while ensuring that the research and policy recommendations are uniquely relevant to Ghana. In addition to the core research agenda, the team continues to be responsive to key issues raised by GoG and USAID such as addressing nutritional problems through agricultural interventions by investigating agriculture-nutrition linkages. The program explicitly recognizes productivity improvement as an important component of improving food security.
The Program will contribute to USAID Ghana’s Feed the Future Strategy by providing new knowledge on the constraints and opportunities to increase agricultural productivity in Ghana by addressing critical aspects of the selected crops, the focus on regional development, and the attention to nutrition and health outcomes. In addition, the efforts that have already gone into improving the country’s agricultural statistical system will now enable rigorous examination of cross cutting issues such as gender. There is also potential for collaborative work on the fishery sector with our sister institution which specializes in it.
In the last few years, the government has focused on increasing production of maize and rice, primarily to substitute for growing imports, through fertilizer subsidies, establishment of private mechanization centers, and buffer stock management, all mediated through the block farming program. Some crops, such as maize, are being targeted with an eye on making other subsectors, such as poultry, more competitive with imports. Commercialization of agriculture, value chain development, and the use of FBOs to effectively reach the numerous smallholder farmers in the country are some of the key strategies that the government is employing to achieve its objectives. A few critical aspects of value chain development that will be examined are the creation of conditions conducive to private investments in large scale farming and institutional development to incorporate smallholders into value chains led by private investments through enhanced relationships.
As the program moves into its sixth year, explicit thought has been given to building local systems and downsizing the program. Developing a national statistical system that regularly makes information available for research and monitoring is considered an essential step to building local research capabilities. This ongoing work will continue, including negotiations with the government to scale up the work. Another example is the scholarship program, which aims to ensure graduate students’ research is relevant for the sector. A local researcher conference is also planned, in addition to continued engagement with faculty from universities and support to a research network through Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support Systems (SAKSS) and AGRA’s policy nodes.