Long a mainstay of Ghana’s economy, cocoa generates much-needed foreign exchange for the country, as well as income for millions of poor farmers such as Yaw Dankwa and Susana Nsiah. But most of these farmers haven’t viewed their farms as businesses. As a result, they haven’t been using optimal agronomic practices or investing in their farms, and their yields are barely half of what they could be. “I almost cut down my cocoa trees because of the low yields I was experiencing,” Dankwa says.
Farms Become Business Operations
Without the right business or farming know-how, such farmers have been struggling to make ends meet. So TechnoServe has begun working with an agricultural company to help them realize their potential. Farmers are now organized into groups and can buy supplies on credit. They are advised on the most effective farming practices, such as how to best apply fertilizer, prune the trees, and then harvest, ferment and dry the beans to ensure quality. They are also learning business skills such as record-keeping and are beginning to think of their farms as commercial enterprises.
Dankwa and Nsiah have begun maintaining accounts on their farm operations, which helps them gauge how they’re doing and make more informed decisions. “I am applying all the business skills TechnoServe taught me,” Nsiah says to TechnoServe business advisor Fred Phillips. For example, “I keep records on my day-to-day business transactions; I know how much I paid as farm wages to all my farm hands during the season.” She adds, “I never knew I could own a business, but now I know my farm is my business and will adhere to all business principles.”
Gaining Revenues and Respect
Such improved techniques have enabled Dankwa and Nsiah to almost quadruple their yield. As a result, the couple can now afford quality education and health care for their children. They have also upgraded from a mud-thatch house to a more structurally stable cement-block house.
TechnoServe business advisors are also teaching the cocoa farmers to plough their profits back into their farms. This has caught on very well with the farmers. Dankwa and Nsiah have opened an account with a bank in the nearest town and are saving all their money there. They have already asked bank officials for credit to expand their cocoa farm business during the next season.
News of Dankwa and Nsiah’s success has spread throughout the community. The couple’s farm has become a model for other cocoa farmers seeking a better future for themselves and their families.
TECHNOSERVE SERVICES PROVIDED
- Farmer organization
- Effective farming practices training
- Account management and bookkeeping skills
- Business management training
- Improved techniques have enabled some farmers to almost quadruple their yield.
- Increased income allows for access to quality education and healthcare for families.
- Farmers’ success is serving as a model for the greater community.