YAP Proposal #222: Keeping smallholder farmers in business (Benedict Kusi Ampofo, Ghana)

Philomena Entsie ( team member ) with Mr Kusi Agyei ( farm manager and extension officer )

My name is Benedict Kusi Ampofo, 21 years old and in my fourth year of medical school at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.

I have always thought of myself as a budding social entrepreneur. With a great appreciation of the world around me and the challenges of it. Growing up, I had a great sense of responsibility and belief in my ability and desire to impact the world around. Being fond of Agriculture and Philanthropy, whose seeds were sown in me during my early life living in a poor rural community, my dream has always been to help children born into poor families to become the best they can be, to pursue their dreams despite the limitations.

These desires were greatly heightened while visiting farms to learn for myself about the state of agriculture in my country. When the opportunity came to start a farm, I did a little survey and research on how best I could deliver the impact I wanted to make. On this note the idea of starting a demonstration farm was born a year ago .

Like every young person wanting to start a farm, my biggest challenge was access to land and capital. However, after bootstrapping with my team of friends (Team Kiriku) by selling men’s slippers and a few other side businesses, we had gathered enough to support our savings and so we acquired a piece of land on special long tenure terms at Bankame, a poor rural community in the Asante Akyem South district of Ghana .

The goal is to create sustainable thriving agricultural communities with almost no poverty and to do this we focus on providing smallholder farmers with the best of skills and knowledge on effective agricultural innovations and practices and helping them with their daily challenges to improve their yield per unit area by a running demonstration farm to serve as a model for farmers who believe in sustainable agriculture.

Teaching people your idea of farming is similar to selling any market product but this time what you are actually selling is an IDEA, an idea of farming that really works and showing how it is actually done. And so we made the farmer’s aware, demonstrated the advantage of our practices and operations over conventional methods  further made sure it was affordable to implement but effective .

The Demonstration Farm serves as a living classroom, showcasing and teaching over a dozen practical techniques to farmers who cannot benefit from normal classroom teaching. Rather than simply telling them about sustainable concepts, the Demonstration Farm shows them what works, how it is done, and enables them to envision ways to incorporate these techniques on their own land. We further help them to implement what they have learnt on their farms.

Currently, with a 2 hectare farm we have 63 farmers with us who are learning and applying these concepts on their farms. Most encouraging is the enthusiasm and support from rural youth who come around often to find out what we are doing new after seeing our plantain sucker nurseries. Most farmers have now learnt to do side grafting for cocoa so they can take advantage of old shoots without having to cut them down, others have raised cocoa nurseries and are planting in rows which was something they had never done until we showed up.

My favourite comment was from the Chief of the village but was spoken in Twi and has been translated. “Before your arrival the extension officers will organise forums for us. Often we understood some of the things they said but we couldn’t tell how advantageous what they taught us would be compared to what we had been doing. Often this was the dilemma and so we never did them. Seeing your farm and seeing how advantageous and simple what you teach us, I have more belief now to do the same with my farm.”

This comment clearly outlines the challenges of educating smallholder farmers. The issue of smallholder farmers will not be solved from offices but from the farms. The challenges are many and cannot be solved in isolation. It is when we find innovative, creative and concerted solutions to the daily challenges of farmers by providing extension services and engaging with these farmers on a daily basis that we can find long term sustainable solutions to agriculture in Africa.

Teaching farmers and rural youth about farming, perfecting their skills, improving their incomes and breaking the cycle of poverty is a sure and realistic approach to the creation of sustainable thriving agricultural communities.

Myself ( right ) with farm manager

In the end, it is my hope together with my team members to serve as an inspiration for many young people disillusioned about agriculture particularly the ill notion that it is for illiterates and to be part of a new age social entrepreneurs to revolutionalize agriculture in Africa and the world .

BUDGET

The goal is to model as many smallholder farmers as possible who believe in agriculture and are ready to take the necessary steps to become financially independent irrespective of what they are growing. Currently we train farmers in the cultivation of cocoa, plantain, banana, pepper and beans.

With that in mind, $2500 would be used to acquire a 2.5 acre land
$2000 to acquire facilities and equipments for irrigation on the 2.5 acre land
$500 used to clear and acquire the necessary farm inputs like tools, seeds and seedlings to start a vegetable farm particularly growing cabbage, carrot, beans and garden eggs which is commonly grown by farmers in the community so we can absorb these farmers as well into our system.

This can be completed in a year and we would expect to model about 50 farmers in that regard. The money from selling the produce of the farm would be used to run and manage the operations on the farm as we have been doing with our first demonstration farm .

Estimated amount for land acquisition (2.5 Acres) = $2500
Amount needed for irrigation and irrigation equipments = $2000
Purchasing of seeds , tools and other agricultural inputs = $500

Blogpost and picture submitted by Benedict Kusi Ampofo (Ghana) –ampofo.bka[at]gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #222 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

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“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.


17 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #222: Keeping smallholder farmers in business (Benedict Kusi Ampofo, Ghana)

  1. Hello Benedict…I am quite motivated just by reading this piece.Amazing how young and aspiring entrepreneurs like you could take up a wonderful initiative like this and even in the area of agriculture in Ghana.I believe more of the youth should think like you:not just focusing on academic careers but also giving back to our motherland.”Cudos Team Kiriku” wishing you the very best!

  2. Brilliant. We are more likely to reproduce what we experience firsthand than what we just hear. Good work team Kiriku. Keep it up.

  3. wow… such an enterprising team . happy to know some youth today are concerned about the society…the future is bright!

  4. Let us arise as African youth to make our place a better one. We are blessed with opportunities and it is about time we make very good use of such opportunities. Long live Africa……long live team kiriku.

  5. Its nice to see that some of the youth in this country still have a sense of maturity.
    We appreciate that people still dedicate themselves to helping others. Keep up the good work and may God be your helper.

  6. It’s amazing to have a medical student putting energy into the development of agriculture this is a pure sign of true love and passion for it and this love and passion shouldn’t he made to die.TeamKiriku needs all the support it can get to rise as high as possible and to serve as a model for the youth around to emulate.

  7. This is really innovative. Congrats. We pray that our good God will continue to direct you and build on what you’ve already started.

  8. It’s amazing to see a medical student put some energy into the agricultural sector. this is a clear demonstration of love and passion for it and this love and passion shouldn’t be made to die.Team Kiriku needs all the support it can get to rise higher and serve as a model for the youth to emulate.
    I have a question however: Pls Mr. Kusi,given the sometimes unpredictable weather in Ghana,have you made any provisions for keeping your farm(s) still going despite fluctuating weather conditions? Thank you!

  9. Very motivating because it is not everyday we are able to have ideas and put them in action like you have. Great things lie ahead.

  10. To Moiko . There are many ways we address this . First concentrating efforts on increasing the soil moisture content like ; Maintaining permanent soil with cover crops , Minimising mechanical soil disturbance , Controlling in-field traffic , Crop rotation , mulching and increasing the biomass content by cover CROPPING and practising zero bush burning even before we think of measures like drilling and irrigation which are not pragmatic solutions in the setting of these Smallholder farmers. Another important consideration will be about Timing ; deciding when to plant . It is very essential that farmers plant at the right times so plants would have grown to points with minimal need for water so they can withstand the entire period of the dry season . However , we shall continue to pursue other innovative sustainable and effective solutions to address this issue even if that may include irrigation farming at certain points . The innovations and technologies exist , However is about bringing a perfect fusion of today’s innovation and technologies with the conventional and old farming methods used by these smallholder farmers in the contest of their situation and environment that matter .

  11. Your insight, enthusiasm and dedication for Africa are really inspiring. I wish you many years of great achievements. God bless you with more wisdom, wealth, success and prosperity.

  12. Thank you for answering…I have two other questions which I think are very important.
    1. If you are given the financial support you need now,how will you be able to sustain and make the project even bigger so that in 5-10 years time we will still have TeamKiriku being a wonderful model to look up to bearing in mind that the country has a fragile economic situation and also several government policies are put on board yearly that may not favour you?
    2. Being the son of an agricultural extension officer,I know that one of the reasons for farmers ignoring the techniques they are taught is that they feel those techniques are difficult to apply.So how do you convince me that your techniques will in the long run not be rejected by the farmers due to the same reason or because they will see you as repackaged extension officers seeking their attention.again bearing in mind that though you will continue to be with them,with time your team may not be able to match up with the number of farmers you are helping?

  13. Kudos Benedict and Team Kiriku. You can only succeed.Keep the great work!Your consistency will break the ice of skepticism and sooner than later all hands will be on deck to roll the boat to shore.God bless you

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