In the lead-up to Ghana’s National Farmers’ Day in December 2017, agribusiness RMG Ghana Ltd is honoring smallholder farmers within the maize, cocoa and rice sectors by launching an intervention to protect them from malaria, and increase crop yields and incomes.
Launched in November 2017 in Assin Foso in the Central Region, this corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative will protect an estimated 9,000 beneficiaries from malaria through the distribution of more than 3,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to farmers and their dependants. Of those, 500 were distributed to women farmers of the Cocoa Abrabopa Association.
RMG’s aim is to reduce malaria incidence among farmers and dependants, thereby helping to reduce the socio-economic burden malaria has on their lives. The company partnered with the Private Sector Malaria Prevention (PSMP) project of Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs to provide technical assistance in putting its malaria prevention initiative in place.
That some agricultural practices can predispose farmers and their families to malaria is well documented, as are the effects of malaria on agricultural productivity. For instance, water accumulation due to poor land preparation and poor cultural practices can be a major breeding ground for mosquitoes. Farmers who have malaria, or care for sick family members, will either not go to work or work at reduced capacity.
A 2016 study on the economic effects of malaria in Ghana reveals that agriculture and agribusiness lost a total of US $575,144 to malaria. Cost of treatment accounted for 96% of costs and the remaining 14% were productivity losses due to absenteeism. Even brief periods of illness that delay planting or harvesting can be catastrophic, according to a 2005 UN Millennium Project Report.
RMG Ghana is investing GHC 100,000 into this programme for a period of one year (2017-2018). In partnership with PSMP, a series of malaria sensitization seminars will also be held for farmer groups across the country. Farmers will be sensitized on the effects of malaria on health and productivity, and how to prevent malaria, through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets.
The insecticide-treated bed net distribution will benefit cocoa farmers and their dependents in the cocoa regions (Central, Western, Eastern, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Volta), maize farmers, and their dependents in three northern regions and rice farmers located in the Volta region and Greater Accra.
According to RMG Ghana, the net effect of this action leads to peace of mind to concentrate on their core business of food production. It also helps retain their income to channel into other productivity activities—such as sourcing quality agro-inputs, fertilizer, hybrid seeds, irrigation equipment and the quality upkeep of their children.
The PSMP project is a UKaid funded project being implemented by Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. The project seeks to increase private-sector contribution to National Malaria Control Programme efforts through the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets by companies to their employees, dependents and communities.
RMG Ghana Ltd is one of Ghana’s fastest growing agriculture companies that offer a vast range of agriculture business solutions. Their core mandate includes, the distribution of Crop Protection Products (CPP’s), Fertilizer, Improved seeds, Spraying machines and Irrigation equipment to farmers, development of private sector initiatives aimed at increasing agriculture yield and revenue and educating farmers on input application methods.