Productive Agricultural Linkages and Marketing Systems (P.A.L.M.S.)

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Productive Agricultural Linkages and Marketing Systems (P.A.L.M.S.)

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Productive Agriculture Linkages and Marketing Systems (P.A.L.M.S.) program pools appropriate technologies and resources together to facilitate moringa, vegetable and fruit supply chain with proper and strengthened organizational capacities and linkages for sustainable production and marketing both local and export.

About You
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



, GA

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


Organization Name


Organization Phone


Organization Address

MD P.M.B. 3, Madina, Accra

Organization Country

, GA

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, GA

What makes your idea unique?

The P.A.L.M.S. program has three main sections: (a) nursery (b) plantation and (c) marketing. At the nursery stage, farmer groups, which are predominantly women, are trained to produce disease suppressing compost from agricultural waste and budded/grafted disease resistant seedlings. At the plantation stage, they are introduced to mechanized farming using simple mechanized ploughing and weeding implements in addition to drip irrigation, a well preferred irrigation method which enhances crop yield, preserves the environment and is cost effective. Use is made of diesel pumps run by biodiesel or solar pumps for pumping water. The farmers are equally introduced to an effective nutrient management which includes vermiculture and an integrated pest management in addition to sound farm management practice backed by workshops, seminars and a manual/computer application termed - the Farm Manager. The marketing stage is in four sections: (a) market information (b) packaging and quality (c) orders and (d) transport/delivery. Appropriate market information on packaging, quality standards, orders and proper transportation/delivery modes are provided on a timely basis through an interactive website, radio, newsletter, fixed and mobile telephony. This holistic commodity chain approach backed by appropriate technology from nursery to the final market is quite unique in the present agricultural setting in the country and is quite appropriate for the 60 per cent of the population who are in the agricultural sector of which seventy per cent are women.

Do you have a patent for this idea?


Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

Before the introduction of the P.A.L.M.S. program last year, we organized 300,000 farmers, of which 250,000 are women, in five regions of the country to plant moringa oleifera trees. As these trees grew up for a year, there was availability of moringa leaves to engage in the production of disease suppressing compost and plant growth hormones for vegetables. 100,000 vegetable farmers have started using moringa leaf extract which contains plant growth hormones on their vegetables for the past year and their produce has been reported to be three to four times more than the normal yield which translates to more income for the farmers. The use of disease suppressing compost has also given rise to disease resistant vegetables and fruit trees. With the use of organic fertilizers, plant growth hormones and other plant pesticides from neem tree and other plants, the way is paved for the farmers to engage in organic farming which has good returns for them and the environment. The enthusiasm generated by this program is quite huge and we are encouraged to institute farmer field schools. Over 9 million female farmers out of the 14 million farmers in the country have been using obsolete methods for agricultural production with resultant low yields. By putting some into women groups and farmer based associations, we have been able to secure machinery and loan facilities for them to improve their agricultural production, which they were not able to get hitherto on their own. Two examples are: Dekaworwor Harborbor Women’s group at Aveyime who received a pumping machine, a power tiller, a solar dryer, a boat and finance to enable them engage in an all year round vegetable farming from the government and other NGO sources. God’s Will Farmers Association in Buem received a pumping machine, a stainless steel hammer mill, wellington boots, sprayers, cutlasses and finance from the European Union in addition to other small groups in various places who have been assisted since the introduction of the program.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

- Farming activity is carried out on the micro and small scale level mainly by women who use obsolete and labour intensive methods which yield poor dividends and are also very unfriendly to the environment. Weeding is done with cutlasses and manual implements. Intensive and indiscriminate use of herbicides and weedicides is rendering some farmlands unproductive in addition to traditional method of farming by bush burning. Flooding or conventional sprinkler irrigation system is about 50 to 70% efficient and equally leads to excessive leaching of nutrients whilst improper and excessive application of chemical fertilizers without an appropriate nutrient management planning has a negative toll on yield and the land. Drip irrigation which is 100% efficient is not well known or accepted especially by women.
- Lack of access to technological tools or equipment for mechanized agriculture like tractors, brush cutters, irrigation pumps, solar and hot air driers and other equipment are available but lack of finance is preventing many women from having access to such.
- Lack of co-ordination and inadequate knowledge of local and international marketing systems for their produce result in severe post harvest losses thereby reducing their efficiency and plunging them into deep poverty. There is not much information available on the Internet for many locally available agricultural products in some communities.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

- Establishment of modern production facilities to produce organic agricultural inputs on co-operative levels so that the products are made available cheaply to many farmers on a sustainable basis instead of relying on individual farmers to produce them on their farms. More research is being undertaken to improve on what we have for better results.
- Establishment of co-operative plant pools run by women groups and other farmer based associations to plough their farms in areas where they are not able to purchase tractor and other equipment on their own.
- Development of easy to use software – “Farm Manager” with the farmers to help them to effectively make well informed decisions about agricultural inputs usage to achieve good returns.
- Design, manufacture and distribution of simple solar and hot air dryers using sun, agricultural waste or biogas for quick, cheap and hygienic drying of agricultural produce.
- Establishment and effective operation of our Co-operative Finance Institute –COFI- to provide or link up with financing agencies and banks for equipment leasing and hire purchase of various machinery and equipment needed by various women groups and farmer based associations.
- Mobile telephony to be linked with our interactive website, other internet portals and market information sites like Market Information Systems and Traders’ Organizations in West Africa (MISTOWA) for timely market information and mobile banking services to our farmers.
- Establishment of appropriate transport and distribution channels for agricultural inputs and produce.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

- 2010 – Moringa growing belts established in the five operational regions, namely: Eastern, Volta, Central, Ashanti and Greater Accra – in addition to neem trees which are found all over the country. Establishment of various demonstration nursery, vegetable and fruit farms undertaken for easy access to farmers. Production of organic disease suppressing compost, organic fertilizers and pesticides undertaken in earnest. Two plant pools set up in Eastern and Volta regions. The “Farm Manager” software developed and used by farmers in their nutrient and farm management. Our Agricultural Technobank – an agricultural technology bank strengthened to undertake research and improvement/adaptation of rural agricultural technologies and systems. Tractors, solar dryers and other agricultural implements imported by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture acquired and made available to farmers or farmer groups whilst solar and hot air driers using solar, biomass, biogas and agricultural waste designed, manufactured and distributed through our channels.
Our Co-operative Finance Institute –COFI- made operational and linked up with financing agencies and banks for equipment leasing and hire purchase of various machinery and equipment needed by various women groups and farmer based associations. Our interactive website with links to various marketing information systems established and linked to mobile telephony for the farmers. Expected Cash from Grants is $250,000; 100,000 farmers supported; 100-300% increase in income of farmers.
- 2011 - Establishment of appropriate air-conditioned transport and distribution channels for agricultural inputs and produce. Plant pools set up in all the operational regions. Expected Cash from Grants is $250,000; 150,000 farmers supported; 20% annual increase in income of farmers.
- 2012 – The program expected to be self-sustaining by the end of the third year. Expected Cash from Grants/Investment is $300,000; 250,000 Farmers supported; 20% annual increase in income of farmers and 50% of grants against earned income.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

The program has a strong advocacy element and we have utilized such to impact on public policy. The new government, like the predecessor, has reiterated her resolve to mechanize agriculture and reduce post harvest losses by establishing small scale processing outfits to use the excess produce from the various agricultural endeavours in the country. More tractors have been imported into the country and more women are being trained as operators of these tractors and other heavy duty equipment like bulldozers unlike before. It is being established as a national policy to have an all year round irrigation to ensure production of various agricultural produce. Much attention has not been given to organic farming on account of lack of the requisite farming inputs. With the assurance of getting such through the establishment of various facilities by various women and other groups through this program, organic farming will become a reality.

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Christian Volunteer Service International has entered into partnerships with various not-for profit organizations, agricultural and transport co-operatives, credit unions/microfinance institutions and for profit companies to effectively carry out this program. Of note are the following organizations: African Women Initiatives for Development and Empowerment (AWIDE)
Aveyime GARFUND Co-operative Credit Union, Kantamanto Co-operative Credit Union, Living Manna Co-operative Credit Union, Co-operative Transport Union, Dekaworwor Harborbor Women’s Group, Women United Against Malnutrition, Women of Liberia Peace Network, Garden of Eden Farmers Association, Moringa Oleifera Farmers Association, God’s Will Farmers Association, Kpando-Tokor Farmers Association, Afram Plains Farmers Association and many small women and youth groups in addition to Moringa Oleifera Farms and Industries Limited, Joe-Bren Enterprises, Benji Armah Enterprise, Natural Production Limited and Liberia-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Two networks: Rural Agricultural Improvement Network (R.A.I.N.) and Health and Nutritional Network in Africa (H.A.N.N.A.) are also joined up to this partnership to form an advocacy and institutional framework to push forward actions to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Presidential Initiatives to back some technological and financial initiatives we put across for the success of the program.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

We provided free agricultural consultancy and assistance under this program being supported from earned revenue from our operations in the Green Journey project of our hybrid company, Moringa Oleifera Farms and Industries Limited. To put us in a good stead to run this program effectively, we intend to establish this program as a for profit social venture which will be run directly by our sister not-for profit organization: African Women Initiatives for Development and Empowerment for a year before being converted into a full hybrid for Profit Company. In this vein, we will work partially with grants/investment funds and earned revenue for the next two or three years before going fully with investment funds and earned revenue. This is the main accepted model. Yet this is subject to a revision if suggestions from our sister organization are accepted. They have suggested that small hybrid social ventures should be established by various women groups which will be supported by the PALMS program and they in turn will provide the financial support to the program where grants are not forthcoming.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The resources needed by the micro, small and medium scale farmers or agricultural enterprises in the country to operate effectively are far beyond their reach. Women are in the majority in the farming and agricultural sector especially on the micro and small scale levels and they use obsolete methods which give them poor returns and harm the environment. The youth, especially the female, are thus moving away from this sector which has a lot of employment and financial potential if well utilized. Many farmers do not know or have access to local and international markets for their produce so in times of harvest, severe post harvest losses always result. Christian Volunteer Service International has been in the forefront in the advocacy for rural and small scale farmers to adopt proper farming techniques from the nursery to the markets. The need was therefore found to enter into partnerships with various co-operatives, women groups and farmer based associations to provide services to assist farmers in the vegetable and fruit sectors to operate optimally using appropriate technologies P.A. L.M.S. was thus evolved with a motto: “Linking agricultural technologies effectively” and with three leaves joined together in an intricate way as its logo. With ownership of the structures and services in the hands of the farmers and their active involvement at all stages of the program, we are able to get them to patronize and use the program to turn their fortunes around for the better.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Pastor Joseph Brenyah has been credited with a lot of social innovation. He is a versatile industrial chemist, a naturopath, an experienced administrator, clergyman and social entrepreneur. Between 1990 and 1998, he established Brenlab International Limited in Nigeria and developed blueprints for 3,000 small scale ventures of relevance to indigenous communities. He wrote for the weekly Business Concord magazine of Nigeria for five years under the Small Scale Technology column and helped to establish many small scale ventures there. He has organized a lot of local and international seminars, workshops, conferences and training programs in management, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, small-scale industrial technologies, co-operatives and social entrepreneurship. Many for profit and not-for profit organizations/social ventures have been formed under his direction for effective social impact. He is presently in charge of Christian Volunteer Service International, a non-governmental organization and Moringa Oleifera Farms and Industries Limited, a social enterprise/venture. Productive Agricultural Linkages and Market Systems program was initiated in 2008 by him in response to perceived needs by some women groups. Other recent programs he initiated include the Ghana Malnutrition Annihilation Program (Ghana MAP) to combat malnutrition quickly by encouraging people to resort to a balanced diet especially with Moringa, a powerhouse of essential nutrients, Rural Agricultural Improvement Network (RAIN), a network of small holder farmers, farmer and community based organizations/associations, research institutions and civil society organizations in agriculture, Moringa Oleifera Cultivation and Marketing Program (MOCAMP), to assist in rural agricultural development and industrialization and lately the Green Journey.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Personal contact at Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty, Social norms, Economic or institutional constraints, Women’s lack of involvement in the technology development process.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

The use of mechanized implements helps reduce drudgery and time spent on the farm. The work done is increased and women’s time poverty is equally reduced. Drip irrigation equipment and solar pumps make the arduous work of fetching water no more. Organic fertilizers, nutrient management and integrated pest management combine to increase their income tremendously for the same amount of money and time invested previously. The same can be said of solar and hot air dryers which help to produce acceptable products thereby reducing waste and energy spent in using manual means. Proper farm management and use of ICT in marketing and distribution in addition to fixed and mobile telephony empowers them to deliver their orders in a timely and appropriately fashion with the utilization of proper transportation modes. Social norms do normally relegate women to the background and they are always involved in the drudgery of farm work. Our program makes it easier for them to work effectively. Operating tractors and other heavy duty equipment are normally the preserve of men but we allow and encourage women to take such positions which they perform effectively. Because of the background position of women in our society, they are not given loans and other financial support services in addition to land easily. By grouping them together into groups, we are able to secure finance and land for them as well as the acquisition of farm machinery irrigation, drying and storage equipment.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Technology design, Market research, Technology introduction, Technology training, Technology supply and distribution, Creation and maintenance of market linkages for women's economic outputs, Assessment and evaluation.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

We endeavour to involve women in technology design in most cases. Some technologies have been developed already and our role is getting such to the women in a form that they can easily understand and use effectively. There are adaptations at times to suit the local conditions and in such instances we involve them. However there are others like the “Farm Manager” software being developed as part of the project which we will involve them so that we can come out with an appropriate design that will be acceptable to them. They are always a part of an elaborate market research to ensure that they understand the full implications of the technology they will be involved in and the benefits to be derived from it. Traditional and social norms may make them to reject a technology in its original form and through the research we can adapt it where necessary. An elaborate technology introduction is made combined with technology training so that the technology can be handled effectively. The level of illiteracy is high among the target population so much time is spent on training and supervision. We ensure full technology supply and distribution backed by creation and maintenance of market linkages for women’s economic outputs. An assessment is done every quarter with a full assessment and evaluation done at the end of every year.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?

Rural, Peri-urban, Low income, Middle income.

In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

The core project team includes women., The core project team includes women from developing countries..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Non-profit/NGO/community-based organization, For-profit, Government, Women's organization.

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.