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Donna Thiessen
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USTDA GRANT PROMOTES FOOD SECURITY IN WESTERN AFRICA

ACCRA, GHANA (September 18, 2008) – Supporting the development of an agricultural leasing sector in Ghana to promote mechanized farming and higher crop yields is the goal of a USTDA grant awarded yesterday to the Ghana Association of Leasing Companies (GALCO). The grant complements the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) $547 million compact in Ghana to reduce poverty by raising farmer incomes through private sector-led agribusiness development.

The $360,000 grant was conferred during a signing ceremony held at the U.S. Embassy in Accra. The grant agreement was signed by Donald Teitelbaum, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and GALCO President Ernest Mintah on behalf of the U.S. Government and the GALCO, respectively.

With its abundant fertile land and growing economy dominated by agriculture, Ghana has the potential to strengthen the region’s food security by increasing the food supply. However, Ghanaian agriculture is overwhelmingly run by small holders using basic techniques, resulting in loss of land productivity and higher crop prices. The Ghanaian Government has identified improved agricultural output as key to meeting its development goals.

Enabling mechanized farming, through the provision of agricultural equipment, would have a major impact on land productivity. Existing Ghanaian leasing companies recognize the potential in the agricultural sector in rural Ghana, but lack sufficient expertise to plan the roll-out of leasing arrangements into this new business environment. To address this issue, the USTDA grant awarded today will fund technical assistance in the creation of appropriate business models for agricultural leasing in Ghana and educate stakeholders on leasing in the rural areas.

In addition to complementing the work of the MCC in Ghana, the USTDA grant will also support work by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC assisted in the creation of GALCO and recently facilitated its reorganization under a new charter that includes all leasing stakeholders. Both the IFC and the MCC are interested in providing funding for the implementation of agricultural leasing businesses that may result from USTDA’s grant.

The opportunity to provide the USTDA-funded assistance to GALCO will be competed on the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov. Interested U.S. firms should submit proposals according to the instructions in the Federal Business Opportunities announcement. GALCO will select the U.S. contractor that will carry out the assistance.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, early investment analysis, training, reverse trade missions and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair, open trading environment. USTDA's strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.

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