Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc. (Hons.), MSocSc, PhD
Dr Gideon Edu Onumah
Principal Agricultural Marketing and Finance Economist

Food and Markets Department

Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering & Science

+44 (0)1634 88 3263

Dr Gideon Edu Onumah is a Ghanaian national and has been with NRI for over 14 years. He has been working on African agricultural production, marketing and finance systems as well as on rural/micro finance issues. He has undertaken considerable desk and field research in agricultural commodity sectors, using a range of analytical tools, including value chain analysis, transaction cost analysis and the institutional framework to identify opportunities in the agricultural sector as well as institutional innovations which enhance the capacity of producers and other stakeholders to exploit and benefit from such opportunities. His experience in the commodity sectors includes both food crops, especially grains as well as export crops.

Dr Onumah is that the forefront of the promotion of modern agricultural marketing and finance institutions such as the warehouse receipt system and functional agricultural commodity exchanges. He is currently leading a team of Europe-based experts (under AGRINATURA-EEIG) who are collaborating with African farmers' organisations in promoting market-based farm risk management tools which can benefit smallholder farmers. The project which is called Farm Risk Management for Africa (FARMAF) is funded by the European Union.

Dr Onumah has also been involved in research and consultations on policy and regulatory issues affecting agricultural commodity trading and finance systems. It was in recognition of his work in these areas that he was asked to contribute at a special international colloquium on Warehouse receipts and securitisation of finance to smallholder farmers in 2012. He was also invited as a chapter contributor for the first issue of Africa Agriculture Status Report.

Main interests include development and promotion of sustainable systems to foster access by smallholder farmers to finance, remunerative output markets and farm risk management. The outcome of research and pilots undertaken by Dr Onumah and his colleagues were incorporated in projects to develop efficient crop marketing systems in especially Africa – with funding from different donors including the Common Fund for Commodities, USAID, FAO and the World Bank. Governments which have benefited from these projects include Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia.

The research efforts and pilots undertaken on farm risk management by smallholder farmers has also been utilised in formulating a project being implemented in collaboration with farmers' organisations in Africa to promote access to sustainable, market-based tools which smallholder farmers can use to manage farm risks.

Farm Risk Management for Africa (FARMAF)

Location: Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Zambia
Year: 2012-2015
Funding Body: European Commission
Position Held: Project Coordinator

Description of the Project: The objective of the project is to enhance access to and use of effective pre- and postharvest farm risk management tools (systems, institutions and infrastructure) by smallholder farmers in Tanzania, Zambia and Burkina Faso. This includes access to agricultural insurances linked to improved access to financial services, and enhanced collective action by farmers. It is expected that by using these tools, smallholder farmers will be able to reduce their exposure to downward shocks, improve access to credit and, therefore, their capacity to invest in yield-enhancing technology. Specific contributions are overall project management (shared with project leader); research inputs on innovative financing systems, such as Warehouse Receipt Systems, and commodity marketing; and support of national implementing partners in Tanzania. Research was presented at UK Houses of Parliament in February 2013. The project, led by NRI, is a partnership between AGRINATURA (consortium of European agricultural research institutes and universities) and several national, regional and Pan-African Farmers' Organisations.

Restructuring warehouse receipt system in Tanzania to support viable agricultural commodity exchange

Location: Tanzania
Year: November 2012 – June 2013
Funding Body: World Bank/Bank of Tanzania
Position Held: Project Leader

Review of existing warehouse receipt system (WRS) and advisory inputs on strengthening the WRS to effectively support a viable commodity exchange in Tanzania. The recommendations made have been incorporated in an action plan adopted by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to establish a commodity exchange.

A similar assignment has been undertaken on behalf of the Government of Rwanda. Through the assignment, which was funded by the US-based International Fertiliser Development Centre, NRI advised the Government of Rwanda on regulatory and institutional issues to ensure a robust and trusted warehouse receipt system to assure delivery of commodities traded by the recently-established East Africa Commodity Exchange based in Rwanda. A reliable delivery system has emerged as a cornerstone in assuring the viability of commodity exchanges in developing countries.

This project was undertaken in July-September 2013 and Dr Onumah was the leader of the team of experts which carried it out.

Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA)

Location: Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda
Year: 2008-2011
Funding Body: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Position Held: SME Finance Specialist

Description of the Project: Overall objective of the project is to strengthen value chains for high quality cassava flour (HQCF). Specific objective of inputs: to understand the financing needs of small-medium scale enterprises and recommend innovative financing mechanisms to ease access to credit, thereby promoting investment in cassava processing technologies in the participating countries.

A similar value chain development approach was used by a team, led by Dr Onumah, in studying the Sweetpotato value chain in Nigeria. The aim of the study was to explore opportunities to promote greater exploitation of the benefits of Sweetpotato in Nigeria. It was undertaken between June 2011 and May 2012 and was funded by the International Potato Centre (CIP)/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Leading in preparation of bids and managing implementation of winning bids for projects to improve agricultural marketing and finance systems as well as farm risk management systems in developing countries.

  • Member: European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • External Reviewer (of grant applications) for Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
  • Chapter Contributor: Africa Agriculture Status Report (2013) – officially launched in September 2013 in Maputo Mozambique.
  • Key speaker/presenter at international seminars and workshops on agricultural commodity trade and finance organised by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, UNCTAD, IFPRI and COMESA.
  • Expert Advisor on commodity trade – UNCTAD.
  • Expert Advisor on agricultural development in Africa – UNECA.
  • Peer Journal Reviewer (Food Policy Journal).
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