Though rice has become an increasingly important staple in the Ghanaian diet, Ghana currently imports almost 70% of its rice from abroad at a cost of more than US$500 million, presenting food security concerns. Rising income levels and urbanization are also fuelling rapid imports as consumers demand more packaged foods.
Low-income smallholder farmers are generally forced to take below market prices for their product because of limited use of agricultural inputs and machinery, underdeveloped infrastructure, limited access to capital for agriculture, and a lack of access to fair market prices.
These challenges have led to low productivity in the cultivation of rice in Ghana estimated to be 40% below world averages, against the backdrop of strong GDP and income growth.
GADCO operates a modern hub farm, with an initial focus on rice production, and a program that leverages the resources and infrastructure of the hub farm to provide smallholder farmers with critical production services, inputs (including high-yield seeds) and access to end consumer markets in high-growth food categories.
The company uses its command of the full value chain to process finished products for the domestic market through their own brand, Copa. GADCO is currently selling its Copa Jasmine rice, and will launch derivative products with an emphasis on meeting local market preferences, and affordability through marketing and distributing to base of the pyramid focused consumer markets.
GADCO’s operations have the potential to triple incomes and build skills for 7,000+ smallholder farmers, improving an estimated 35,000 lives in Ghana. Its revenue-sharing model with smallholders offers a strong path to improving smallholder livelihoods in Ghana, whilst strengthening national food security and economic growth.
Acumen’s investment will help shape GADCO’s evolving social impact model and specifically enhance its model of engagement with smallholder farmers as long term partners.
As GADCO plans to expand into multiple crop value chains and replicate its model throughout sub-Saharan Africa, it sees Acumen as a long-term partner that can provide value in the expansion process.