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#DayOfTheGirl ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE: How a partnership with John Deere is helping young women thrive

For women in rural parts of Northern Ghana, a shortage of access mechanised equipment is preventing them from developing profitable farms.

Women in Nagani clean soybeans after harvest. The smallholder farmers are able to produce more crops after using ploughing services provided by a John Deere tractor.

Adiza Baba was 17 years old when she left her home in Nagani, a small village in the Northern Region of Ghana, to work in Accra as a “kayayei.” For five years she worked as a porter, carrying heavy loads on her head for shoppers in the city markets, to earn money to send back to her family. It was the arrival of a bright green John Deere tractor that welcomed Baba home again.

“Although the ‘kayayei’ business is risky and exposed us to the many hazards of city life, we had to endure it to earn some money to remit to our parents and family members who were not getting much from subsistence farming,” Baba said. “I returned home last year to participate in the outgrower scheme, and it proved to be very rewarding.”

Palladium manages the USAID Financing Ghanaian Agriculture Project (USAID-FinGAP). It was established to facilitate financing for agribusinesses working along the maize, rice, and soy value chains in Northern Ghana. Through a partnership developed by USAID-FinGAP between SASL, a USAID-FinGAP participating financial institution, and John Deere, a private agricultural equipment supplier, financing was made available to enterprises in the targeted value chains that wanted to purchase John Deere tractors or other John Deere farming equipment. Under the partnership, John Deere buys down the interest rate up to 4% on loans offered by SASL, making it easier to access funds and pay back the loans.

After the arrival of reliable mechanization services, young women, like Adiza Baba who used to work as "kayayei” in the cities, returned to Nagani in northern Ghana to cultivate maize and soy for a living.

“We receive ploughing services, seed, and agro input on credit to farm on family land and repay with produce. The remainder is sold for income to take care of our families.” - Adiza Baba

Equipment financing has helped many area families. At least twelve young women have left their “kayayei” jobs in the cities and returned to Nagani to earn a living from farming and to strengthen food security in their country. To them we say, welcome home.