GCX, ARB Apex Bank launch GH¢50m support for Ghanaian Smallholder Farmers

The Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), with the collaboration of ARB Apex Bank, launched the electronic warehouse receipt (e-WR) financing program.

The ARB Apex has set aside over GH¢50 million to commence the program. This is the start of the provision of credit/loans to farmers, based on their GCX electronic warehouse receipt.

In other words, farmers do not need to pledge houses and cars for use as collateral; their commodities deposited into a GCX certified warehouse are enough.

This is being done “to achieve the goal of true development of the agricultural value chain and improve the lives of rural communities” stated the CEO of GCX Dr Kadri Alfah. “Greater access to financing and a diverse set of credit facilities is critical,” he added.

ARB Apex bank is the first partner bank of GCX to have issued loans to farmers using their commodities stored at a GCX certified warehouse as collateral and have estimated two hundred thousand farmers to benefit from this novel product in the first year with room for upscaling significantly once concept takes root.

“Even though the RCBs have been lending to the Agricultural sector, this collaboration provides an opportunity for the RCBs to upscale and lend to more farmers since the risk in this system is nearly eliminated.” Kojo Mattah, the CEO of ARB Apex Bank said. The CEO of GCX, Dr Kadri Alfah remarked, “This will give Ghanaian farmers the working capital they need to sustain their business activities in between each harvesting season as well as give them greater purchasing power for seeds, fertilizers and other inputs”.

The operations of the Ghana Commodity Exchange solves numerous problems that have confronted Ghanaian farmers and their markets for years; problems ranging from post-harvest losses, sale of unstandardized commodities, being price-takers, delayed payment for commodities sold and inability to access credit due to collaterals demanded from banks.

Present to pledge their support was the IFC World Bank Group with financial support from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Doreen Oppan, the Project lead for Ghana WRS in an address said, “The IFC Ghana WRS Project- a technical assistance project- would continue to jointly facilitate technical support, capacity development and education activities for the rural and community banks and their network of farmers.”

Director of the Ashanti Regional Coordinating council, Ebenezer Ntow Ayisi who was present at the launch said; “The innovations on offer from the Ghana Commodity Exchange can indeed only be described as providing a different future for agriculture in Ghana….A future where farmers and buyers have the opportunity to apply grading standards to their produce, obtain suitable prices for their wares and now a future where farmers can go into banks to obtain loans.”

The Exchange encourages banks and other financial institutions to participate in warehouse receipt financing because it offers the opportunity to minimize the risk of loss of value of the collateral (stored commodity) by monitoring movements in its market value and using margining and price risk management instruments with up to date market data analysis and notifications.

Loss of value is further minimised due to the structured regular inspection carried out by an FDA-approved GCX warehouse operator to ensure that the stored commodity retains its value.

The work of the Ghana Commodity Exchange in facilitating high quality, certified commodities, providing secured storage and structured trading services with price discovery, and providing smallholder farmers with the opportunity to benefit from the warehouse receipt financing scheme is the transformation we have all waited for the agricultural sphere.