Farmers are the Future (Part 1)

Farmers are the future...Find out why in this Interview. 

Deki interviews David Pankratz, the CEO of iDE Ghana so that our lenders could understand why funding a Farmer from Ghana's loan is so important.

Deki put our lenders questions about farmers to David and he answers them all. David explains what your Deki loans are spent on, what agricultural training our farmer's receive and the huge impact they have on the lives of our farmers and their families. 

iDE Ghana are Deki's partner organisation, working with our Field Partners in Ghana, St Josephs and BESSFA to make sure our Deki Entrepreneurs receive the best training and that all of their loans and support are sustainable and ethical. 

1.       iDE Ghana link smallholder farmers to markets so that they can earn more for themselves and their families, how do iDE farmers use their Deki loans in this process? 

Deki loans are all used to purchase what Deki farmers need in order to increase production and this usually covers two things.

Firstly they use their loans to buy what they need to improve their ability to get water to the plants and this could mean tools for drip irrigation or pipes.  

Secondly Deki loans are also used to fund inputs into crop, this could mean improved seeds, fertilizer, labour or preparing the soil for the next planting season. 

2.       Why are iDE Ghana so passionate about supporting the rural poor? 

This could be answered on two levels: 

From an organizational level and from the viewpoint of iDE Ghana and iDE generally these farmers are sitting on land with masses of potential and we are passionate and driven to help people achieve their potential. The rural poor are also dealing with an increasing level of poverty and the gap between their standard of living and those of the urban poor grows wider every day. 

If you ask the iDE staff you shouldn't be surprised to hear a medley of different answers. All of our staff have their own individual stories to tell, of lives they have literally seen change. 

This combination of potential and watching the change that happens when helping Deki farmers fuels are staff and our mission.

Did you know that each farmer who receives a Deki loan and agricultural training worth around £115 goes on to make (on average) £125 in that year from their land. So you get an immediate return on investment. No other form of international development gives you 100% of your investment back in the first year. You can then expect and farmer to make that same amount of money and more every year from then onwards. 

3.       How do Deki loans enable Ghanaian farmers to break the poverty cycle? 

In the short term they give the farmer the ability to purchase what they need- land, water and labour to earn more income from their land. This has an immediate financial impact. 

But that's only step one of breaking the poverty cycle. We have to ask ourselves: does an increase in income actually mean they are breaking the poverty cycle or are they just richer poor? 

In London £125 a year (mentioned above) doesn't amount to much, however in Ghana this is life changing and enough to break the poverty cycle.  

£125 a year changes the life of their family as their children will be able to choose where and how they work. Let me explain.  Whilst their parents will have agricultural jobs they truly want their their children to live a better life than them . So when they have more profit they can pay for their schooling and higher education. With that education (the golden ticket) the children can choose to stay on the farm and work on the land, in a more efficient way or move to the town or city. The children that choose to have a job in the city give money back to their parents for them to live comfortably.  

This ability to move to urban areas, and progress out of their rural situation, is seen as a way of breaking the poverty cycle. That's the opportunity you give someone when you fund their loan. It truly is life changing. 

4.       iDE Ghana combine Deki loans with iDE agricultural training and advice, what is the typical training given to a farmer? 

We have four kinds of training:   
1) Business training. This includes helping them with calculations for profit and helping them to organise their accounts . Reorientation of thinking, this is where we teach them to see their land has potential. Our farmers realise they can use their land in a more profitable way, rather than just using it to grow foodstuffs for their family they can farm for the market. 

2) Business tips and advice on how to prepare their land for farming to market - what is market farming?- is it sellable? A great example of this is our onion farmers. Onions are big business in Ghana, we teach our entrepreneurs to keep their seeds and cultivate their seed, so that they can sell seed as well as onions. This helps them to be more profitable.  

3) We aid Farmers with new production methods. A great example of this is watering their crop. One of the first things we teach farmers is that watering from a  bucket is wasteful and isn't as efficient as watering using piping. Piping is one thing that farmers use their Deki loans for.  

We also teach them techniques to be more environmentally friendly. And lastly we have a whole section on the best and correct way to use fertiliser (more on this later). 

4) Marketing their crops - Farming as a business is different to farming for food. The last part of the course teaches are farmers techniques to market and sell their crops. 

5.       Do smallholder farmers need western farming advice? 

No, is the simple answer. They do not.  

That used to be what was done in the sixties when western Americans tried to help Africa's farms by sending over a lot of American farmers. It didn't work because they weren't used to the conditions, soil type or type of crop.  Their techniques didn't work in Ghana, or Gambia. It's a completely different type of farming, that deserves it's own techniques and knowledge. Every British gardener know that their tips probably wouldn't work on a garden in Kenya, so why is this any different?

Tropical soils needed to be treated differently, full stop. You're dealing with a completely different soil type and a completely different type of pests. 

iDE Ghana and Deki believe in teaching African or Ghanaian farming methods. We do this by communicating and working alongside African research centers. Our iDE Ghana staff also use demonstration plots, small plots of land that they test new methods on so that they can be translated into what our farmers can use. 

Our western involvement is simply to  facilitate a change and a transition  - not to tell them what to do because it works here.  Deki and iDE are big supporters of using local techniques and local people to facilitate this training and help our farmers, quite simply this is because it is the most sustainable thing to do!

Part 2 of our interview will be available next week!