To mark World Food Day (October 16, 2018), MEDA is sharing impact stories collected from our projects in the field. These stories highlight how MEDA is addressing food security in the area of economic development.
Damata is a one of GROW’s Lead Farmers. She is widowed with seven children. Following the death of her husband, Damata wanted her children to continue to attend school, despite the pressures of being the family’s sole provider and caregiver. “My children’s education is my business,” she stated.
Before joining GROW, Damata cultivated groundnuts, cowpea, and maize. At one time, she entered into a contract with a local agriculture organization that supports smallholder farmers with high quality inputs, technical advice and training. In return, the farmer (in this case Damata), would pay back the input credit with funds generated from their harvests. Once Damata paid off her debt with the agricultural organization, she realized she had very little income left for her and her family.
In 2014, GROW was introduced to Damata’s community, providing training on nutrition, soy production, VSLAs, gender issues, and value chain actors. However, Damata was initially very wary of GROW after her previous experience: “When I was told by my friends that another company was coming to the community, my first impression was ‘another company with a different input package.’” However, GROW’s package is quite different, as GROW provides services to empower its clients, rather than physical inputs. After learning more about the GROW project, Damata joined a farmer group called La-aana 1 – meaning “try and see.” Damata has not regretted joining GROW and last season, she cultivated one and a half acres of soybeans and harvested 900 kg. This year, Damata expanded and planted two acres of soybeans. Damata learned more than just proper agronomics for her soybean field.
Last year, Damata had the opportunity to attend a GROW workshop on becoming a Sales Agent. Attendees learned about business opportunities related to the soy crop, enticing Damata to become involved. She took advantage of the GROW workshop and applied to become a Sales Agent in her community. Becoming a Sales Agent meant Damata would be able to help other women in the community offload their produce and earn money to take care of their families. At the end of last season, with the help of her son, Damata collected 267 mini bags (13,300 kg) from her group. After collecting the produce, TUDRIDEP (one of GROW’s key facilitating partners) helped connect her with an aggregator linked to Vestor Oil Mills.1 Damata was able to agree on terms and pricing with the aggregator and offload her bags of soy. She was able to make GHS 5 (CAD 1.40)2 on each bag for a total of GHS 1,085 (CAD 304) – an impressive profit for her group! With her individual profits, Damata has started building a house. She also hopes to buy a Motorking (a motorized tricycle) that will help with soy transportation next year. By continuing to work hard and using the skills and knowledge that she has learned through GROW, Damata hopes to grow her Sales Agent role and improve her business negotiation skills.
GROW’s Sales Agents
GROW has identified various women who have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and desire to support women farmers to act as Sales Agents within their communities. Sales Agents support other farmers by supplying inputs, providing services and aggregating soy. Sales Agents also fill the gap in agricultural extension services, ensuring valuable market information is reaching women farmers. To date, GROW has 148 Sales Agents and continues to identify more.
Want to learn about our Sales Agent model? Click here.
Update Recorded in May 2018
The GROW project is happy to report that Damata continues to serve her community as a Sales Agent. Her experience has helped her own yields improve significantly. Before GROW, she cultivated three acres of maize; now she has five acres under cultivation and she has doubled her average profits from the maize. She still grows groundnut and cowpea and has added soybean. Her total annual profit prior to joining GROW was GHS 760 (CAD 213) compared to her recent profit of GHS 1,950 (CAD 546). This increase has been very advantageous to her family. With education as a priority, Damata is supporting her children’s schooling, including her son who is learning about agriculture in a post-secondary institution. She has also finished building her house, improving the living conditions for her family. Damata used MEDA’s Technology Fund to pay for the Motorking she desired. She had extra income to also purchase Personal Protective Equipment, a weighing scale and a donkey cart. With all her success, Damata plans to extend her Sales Agent services to a nearby community, which houses many traders who buy and sell goods. Damata’s entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring to her community. She is thrilled to have fulfilled her top priority – financing her children’s education.
Want to support farmers like Damata? Click here.