The signing of the Cooperation Agreement of the first Exporter-Outgrower financial product between Joekopan, Rabobank Foundation and HortiFresh took place at the HortiFresh Fair at Blue Skies. Joekopan is one of the top three vegetable exporters from Ghana, and was winner of the Vegetable Exporter of the Year Award in 2013 and 2014. Rabobank from The Netherlands is the world's largest AgriFood bank.
In January 2019, the Rabobank Foundation provided Exporter-Outgrower financing to Joekopan for investments in a dam and irrigation equipment, as well as for pre-financing of improved seeds to 60 smallholder farmers who supply to Joekopan. For HortiFresh and the Rabobank Foundation, the loan is the second engagement under a long-term partnership through which a number of projects, particularly those with an emphasis on smallholder farmers, will be supported.
Ghana is to experience a boost in horticultural production and exports with the launch of the Exporter-Outgrower financial product under the ''Access to Finance'' of the HortiFresh programme which is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra. The Exporter-Outgrower financial product aims to improve the access-to-finance for smallholder farmers and export companies in the fruit and vegetable sector in a sustainable manner. The HortiFresh project is coordinated by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation.
The signing of the Cooperation Agreement of the first Exporter-Outgrower financial product took place on Tuesday the 5th of February during the HortiFresh Fair at Blue Skies. Blue Skies is the leading Ghanaian exporter of fresh fruits and producer of juices for the local market. At the event, various Ghanaian farmers and companies in the fruit and vegetable sector showcased their products. The Netherlands Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, H.E. Ms Carola Schouten, and the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Mr. Ron Strikker, attended the HortiFresh Fair and witnessed the signing of Exporter-Outgrower financial Cooperation Agreement
Improving access to finance
The objective of the HortiFresh programme, coordinated by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, is to establish a sustainable and internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth, food and nutrition security. Improving access-to-finance for smallholder farmers and export companies is crucial in achieving this objective, as investments are required to improve productivity and marketing. Currently, financing is only available to a few companies. It is interesting to note that loans to the agriculture sector only comprise 4% of the total loan portfolio of Ghanaian banks, while the vast majority of these loans are provided to cocoa companies. HortiFresh will develop four financial products in the coming years to improve the access-to-finance for smallholder farmers and export companies in the fruit and vegetable sector.
The Exporter-Outgrower financial Cooperation Agreement is the second HortiFresh financial product, which entails a loan to exporting companies. The company investments in assets such as dams, irrigation and biological control measures will increase production in an environmentally sustainable manner. Pre-financing of improved seeds to smallholder farmers in their networks will have the same effect. HortiFresh will support the uptake of the financial product in the sector by selecting suitable companies and financial institutions, assisting companies with the development of bankable business plans, supporting companies and financial institutions during the due diligence check, and providing agriculture and business support to companies and smallholder farmers during implementation. These services will lower the risks for financing institutions, and more than 10 Ghanaian banks have already showed firm interest in the Exporter-Outgrower financial product.
Commitment of the Netherlands
During the signing ceremony, The Netherlands Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, H.E. Ms Carola Schouten, affirmed The Netherlands' commitment to the growth of the horticulture sector in Ghana through its support of the HortiFresh programme. She especially mentioned that the horticulture sector, by its very nature, can provide many jobs, exports and economic growth to Ghana in a sustainable way. She further called on the collaboration between the private sector, research institutes and governments, as this cooperation has been the key-to-success for the sustainable development of the horticulture sector in other countries.