Request for Concept Notes (RFCN) for grant project in maize & soybean value chain in northern and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana

About AGRA: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is a not-for-profit organization working with African governments, other donors, NGOs, the private sector and African farmers to significantly and sustainably improve the productivity and incomes of resource poor smallholder farmers in Africa. AGRA has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya and a Regional office in Accra, Ghana.

Background/Problem Statement:

Maize is a very important staple and most cultivated cereal in terms of volume and area, it is also the most consumed cereal in the country. However, its production in Ghana is currently facing 80% average yield gap, a situation threatening food security especially in the Northern Regions. The bulk of maize produced goes into food consumption and it is arguably the most important crop for food security. The development and productivity of the livestock and poultry sectors also depend on the maize-soya value chain since they are a major component of poultry and livestock feed. Maize-Soya demand is projected to grow at a compound annual growth of 2.6 percent in the medium term. It is an important commodity in the West African sub-regional trade, particularly between Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Niger, through mainly informal trading. Meanwhile, Ghana is not self-sufficient in this staple crops. Thus, it is important to increase their productivity and overall production to meet the country’s growing demand and to improve overall food security.

Even though there have been significant successes in the Maize-Soya value chain, agricultural productivity and production, access to structured markets and use of enhanced productivity inputs have not been tapped to their fullest potentials. The Northern Region is currently producing about 34% of the potential maize yields and 38% of the potential soy yields that it could produce. Meanwhile, SMEs in the feed industry are producing 50% below their installed capacity and others have resorted to imports of raw materials to keep their businesses running. Again, the government of Ghana’s Poultry revitalization programme to reduce importation of poultry product by 30% from the current level of 250million birds to 170million birds in the next 4-years is projected to create a demand for 400,000MT of feed per annum including 240,000MT of maize and 180,000MT of soya per annum. The market for Maize and soya is enormous (only 32% of it is met annually) and this present a unique opportunity to increase smallholder farmers productivity and income.

It is against this backdrop that a concept note of at most 5 pages is invited from interested consortia in MAIZE- SOYBEAN value chain to develop and sustainably run various structured activities to realize the goal and objectives of the project.

Project Goal and objectives:

To contribute to an efficient, profitable and inclusive maize and soya value chains in the Northern region to meet the raw material needs of industry on sustainable basis, through increased farmer’s access to quality inputs and reduction in post-harvest losses to ensure increased productivity, incomes and food security for smallholder farmers.


  1. To increase production and productivity of smallholder farmers by facilitating utilization of information, improved seed, agro-inputs and improved agronomic practices.
  2. To increase supply of quality maize and soy produce for industry on sustainable basis
  3. To increase the capacity and efficiency of value actors, particularly SMEs, in the maize and soya value chains.
  4. Implement policies that enable smallholder maize farmers to operate as a profitable businesses

Project Beneficiaries:

The proposed intervention will impact the following actors across the entire Maize-Soybean value chains:

  • Smallholder farmers
  • Off-takers/ Processors
  • Aggregators
  • Mechanization Service Providers
  • Agro-Input dealers
  • Financial Institutions(FIs)

Specifically, the project will impact directly 150,000 smallholder farmers growing mainly maize and soybean. The project will work with farmers to meet the demands of industrial off-takers and aggregators within the selected value chains. The project will also work with the smallholder farmers to produce to meet the demands of market leads.

Expected outcomes

  1. Increased adoption of agriculture productivity enhancing technologies
  2. Increased use of structured markets
  3. Strengthened and expanded business development, financial and risk management services in the rice value chain
  4. Reduced impact of agricultural volatility

Expected Outputs

  • Quantity of breeder seed produced
  • Quantity of Foundation seed produced
  • Quantity of Certified seed produced
  • Number of outgrowers trained in seed management
  • Number of demonstrations conducted
  • Number of field days held
  • Number of agro-dealers trained
  • Number of farmers trained in good agronomic practices
  • Number of radio programs aired in local dialects
  • Number of seed company personnel trained in BDS
  • Volume of farm produce aggregated
  • Volume of rice processed
  • Number of farmers linked to off-takers
  • Number of farmers trained in post-harvest management & handling
  • Number of contracts established among actors

Intervention Strategy

The overarching strategy is a market-led agricultural transformation that will facilitate value chain enhancement through off-takers and their aggregators. In the case of the maize and soya value chains in the Northern Region, the proposed drivers are Aggregators and Processors who are expected to drive up consistent demand which will eventually impact productivity.

The Strategy will adopt an integrated approach in the delivery of services through a Project Implementation Unit (PIU) which will consist of a multi-disciplinary team of AGRA staff (PO) and implementing partners with different areas of expertise. The PIU will have a lead and a Task manager (AGRA PO/APO) to strategically manage the consortium. The initiative will ensure that the value chains are inclusive of women and youth and that development and growth in productivity supports both food and industrial utilization of maize and soya.

The strategy will be underpinned by three elements:

  • Enhancing technical and organizational capacity of smallholder farmers to improve productivity.
  • Building the business and technical capacity of aggregators to uplift their operations and management standards to increase the quality and volume of output and efficiency of the supply chain.
  • Facilitation of a reliable and efficient linkage for better chain integration and access to input support, services and finance.

The different Roles of the Implementing partners/Consortium Members shall include but not limited to:

  1. Farmer Mobilization activities
  2. Training and capacity building in productivity, postharvest management, Extension and farmer organization
  3. Research, Private local seed company and agro input companies based in the Northern Region to provide input to farmers
  4. BDS to provide Mechanization services
  5. Off takers to mobilize produce and also communicate produce specifications and volumes required to producer groups and nucleus farmers and also develop an effective and efficient produce aggregation system

Request for Concept Notes

This Request for Concept Note (RFCN) is comprised of two steps. In the first stage, AGRA GHANA is requesting only Concept Paper from the prospective Consortium describing the overall activity that the applicant proposes to implement, in accordance with the goal and objectives of the project. Each prospective Consortium shall submit only one Concept Note. If a Consortium submits more than one application, only the first one received will be considered for review. AGRA will evaluate the Concept Notes following the criteria outlined in this brief. Applicants whose concept papers obtained highest scores in the evaluation will be invited to submit full and detailed applications for funding consideration. Issuance of this Request for Applications does not constitute an award or commitment on the part of AGRA nor does it commit to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of Concept Papers.

Selection Criteria

AGRA selection process will favour a consortium with a stronger team which provides a clear cut strategy on how to realize the goal and objectives of the project in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way. 

Eligibility Criteria

The applicant submitting the Concept Paper should meet the following criteria:

  • Be a legally registered non-governmental organization or Private Business under the laws of Ghana (Must have registration certificates)
  • Have demonstrated experience in implementing Agricultural Value chain projects in Ghana especially cereals
  • Have demonstrated capacity to manage grant funds;
  • Have demonstrated presence in the proposed geographic area
  • Possess audited financial statement (preferred)

Selected Geographic Districts (11) of the proposed Maize-Soya project in Brong Ahafo and Northern Region

Brong Ahafo Region Northern Region
District No. of Farmers District No. of Farmers
Nkoranza North 20,000 Mamprusi East 12,000
Nkoranza South 18,000 Chereponi 10,000
Techiman North 15,000 Savelugu-Nanton 12,000
Techiman South 15,000 East Gonja 8,000
Atebubu 20,000
Pru 12,000
Sene West 8,000
Total:           7 108,000 4 42,000

Additional Documents

More information can be downloaded here –

Funding Period:

The funding period of this grant project is 3 (three) years. Applicants shall submit Concept Paper (download template here – on the project for the 3 (three) year period.

Modalities of submission: Interested organizations should submit their concept notes written in English titled ‘Connecting actors for strengthened Maize-Soy value chains to improve productivity and incomes for smallholder farmers” to on or before Monday, 30th April 2018 by 5pm GMT. We encourage partnerships between organizations specialized in developing and delivering various structured value-chain Services to smallholder farmers in Ghana, there should however be ONE LEAD ORGANIZATION. For any enquiry pertaining to this concept note, kindly put it into writing and submit to Concept Notes received after RFCN Expiration Date (above) will not be considered.

AGRA will review submitted concept notes and only request successful organizations to submit full proposals for grant funding. The concept notes will not be returned to the senders. Eligible grant funding is for cost sharing of technical advisory and training costs related to the development and delivery of the proposed solution.