Washington — Diners across the world know the Bird's Eye chili pepper for the distinctive zing it brings to dishes. But Ghanaian farmers know the pepper as "green gold" -- and funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is helping them turn the crop into a profitable export.
An organization of 110 farmers at the Kpando-Torkor farm, on the east banks of Lake Volta, has begun to capitalize on the export market after receiving training funded by MCC under a five-year, $547 million compact with Ghana, MCC announced February 21.
Before the MCC compact, which was recently completed, the farmers planted a variety of crops for sale in local markets but did not grow export-quality chili peppers. But since 2009, they have expanded production to include growing and exporting Bird's Eye chili peppers. In their first two pepper harvest seasons, the farm cultivated nearly 29 metric tons of export-quality peppers from just 1.5 hectares.
"I am gratified the people of Ghana embraced MCC's innovative
approach to development. It is an approach that reflects the values of Ghanaians dedicated to creating a life of opportunity," MCC chief executive Daniel Yohannes said during recent ceremonies in Ghana celebrating the completion of the compact.
Expected to provide economic opportunities for more than 1.2 million Ghanaians over 20 years, the compact has created more than 1,200 farmer-based organizations (FBOs), trained more than 66,000 farmers in commercial agriculture, enhanced rural credit and banking services, and constructed new roads and post-harvest facilities.