With financing, Ghanaian producer joins sorghum boom

A Ghanaian grain producer has leveraged Trade Hub financial consulting to join a regional sorghum production boom, strengthening its partnership with Ghana’s largest brewery and impacting the lives of thousands of farmers.

Thanks to business advisory services from the Trade Hub’s financial advisors network, Precision Farms obtained two significant bank loans in mid 2015. With the fresh inflow of liquidity, Precision Farms expanded its network in 2017 to 3,700 farmers in the Eastern, Brong-Ahafo, and Upper East Regions of Ghana.

Four women sort sorghum at Precision Farms before it is threshed. Sorghum is harvested multiple times per year, creating more seasonal jobs for female workers. Photo credit: Ms. Yvette Kuwornu, Trade Hub.

Through partnerships with local firms like Precision Farms, Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited (GGBL) now sources 48 percent of its raw materials from local partners, up from 12 percent in 2012. Today, more than 25,000 Ghanaian farmers supply the brewery’s high demand for sorghum.

Shortly after Precision Farms launched its business relationship with GGBL, it sought assistance from the Trade Hub to obtain financing for its expanded activities in early 2015.

The Trade Hub’s financial advisor, Dab Consult Ghana Ltd, reviewed the company’s business plan and advised on development of financial statements and funding options.  This business development support led directly to Precision’s successful application for two loans totaling GHS 1.6 million (US$401,208), backed by a German development bank and disbursed by the BESSFA Rural Bank in Garu, northern Ghana. The loans enabled Precision to conduct standards trainings for about 2,700 farmers while adding 1,000 local farmers to its network to grow sorghum.

The company was also able to purchase a van for transporting produce and a dryer for its fresh sorghum—a crucial addition in a region where aflatoxin contamination has historically deterred West African agro-industries from sourcing grain locally, the Trade Hub found in a 2016 study.

“With the dryer, we are able to dry whether there are rains or not,” said Mr. Kofi Marfo, owner of Precision Farms. “The dryer also helps us get the right moisture required by GGBL, and it also helps address the issue of aflatoxin control to a large extent.”

Precision Farms also contracted a local artisan to manufacture a threshing machine and also offers seasonal positions to women, who use wages for household groceries and school fees.

“The money we make from sorting the sorghum helps us a lot,” said Ms. Rebecca Timbielleh, a sorghum sorter at Precision Farms. “I use the money to buy fish and meat for the house because we get other foodstuffs from the farm, and I sometimes pay for my children’s school fees when my husband says there’s no money.”

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