SPARK (Strengthening Public Accountability for Results and Knowledge) is an ambitious and innovative global program to arm marginalized groups and activists with the tools necessary to engage in budget processes and affect transformational change in their lives.
In Ghana, SPARK works with smallholder rice farmers who are part of the Peasant Farmer Association of Ghana (PFAG), to confront late delivery and poor access to subsidized fertilizer and associated services.
Smallholder farmers rely heavily on subsidized fertilizer to ensure they can plant crops and provide food security for the country. Despite their critical role, these farmers are often unable to access fertilizer when they need it due to many challenges in the implementation, allocation and transparency of the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme (FSP).
Challenges to accessing the FSP include:
- Poor identification and targeting of smallholder farmers
- Budget allocation is not transparent nor linked to the actual number of targeted beneficiaries
- Fertilizer does not always reach the farmers where they are
- Challenges with identifying and paying suppliers inhibits the timely supply and delivery of fertilizer to farmers
Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is a farmer-based organization that brings together small holder farmers to form a common front to advocate for government policy and action that support their source of livelihood.
SEND Ghana promotes participatory monitoring and evaluation of government’s policies and programs in the agricultural sector as a key strategy for promoting livelihood security and improved service delivery, especially for women and smallholder farmers. SEND is supporting the Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana to sharpen its advocacy for greater access to the government’s program for subsidized fertilizer.
Wassa Communities affected by Mining (WACAM) is a premier community based human rights and environmental mining advocacy group with a community-based focus. WACAM is focused on community mobilization, organization and rights-based education for empowerment, at the local, national, sub regional and international levels to influence mining policy and practice.
Through SPARK, we are advocating for more equitable and effective targeting of smallholder farmers and monitoring program implementation to reduce diversion of fertilizer to large farmers or non-farmers, including:
- Working with SEND Ghana to analyze the budget and advocate for a clear and transparent link between budget allocations and the actual number of targeted beneficiaries.
- Monitoring the distribution of fertilizer and pushing for allocation criteria based on actual need in regions and districts
- Collecting information from farmers about the challenges they face and using this data to advocate for changes in the procurement and distribution process.
- Analyzing the flow of funds to suppliers to advocate for timely payments
In late 2019, the Peasant Farmer Association of Ghana (PFAG) – with the support of SPARK – collaborated with leading media outlets to generate a wave of public pressure for government’s immediate action to avert a mass loss of post-harvest rice. As a result, the issue of local rice production has been more high-profile than it has been in a decade. Additionally, PFAG petitioned the Speaker of Parliament for an urgent intervention to address their challenge as part of the 2020 Budget approval process, resulting in the “Eat Ghana Rice” campaign.
Successes from the campaign included:
Direction from the President for state institutions to use local rice
Federal support to local farmers and a gradual banning of imported rice
Rice importers were directed to purchase and sell some percentage of local rice
Provision of resources to use all surplus rice for school feeding programs
Four solar rice mills were purchased and distributed among the various rice valleys to enhance processing rice closer to the production areas.