Thursday, December 23, 2010

Phase 2 - Day 5

Today was a great step for Phase 2. Darryl and I were able to link up with Dan, a local teacher, and prominent figure in the community, and one of our major sets of eyes and ears on the ground here. We went to the Bawku (a region 2 hours north of Ekumdipe that farms during the dry-season regularly) man’s farm in order to see his progress thus far, talk to him about dry-season particulars, and assess the profitability of the next season. By the time we started viewing the field, it was apparent that this man was an expert. He already had a substantial cluster onion seedlings sprouting from the ground. His farm beds were much wider and squarer than the type of ridges the people of Ekumdipe used last year (he mentioned that this was to retain more water during the arid conditions). The farmer even utilized different technology! He used hoes with narrower blades than the people in the area were accustomed to because he said it made weeding easier. If all of these differences are indeed important to the success of a dry-season yield, then it was no surprise that the people of the community did not do as well as we hoped last year. Seeing that we now had an expert that could help teach the others in the area was definitely a reassuring feeling for us.

After he showed us around his 2 acres, we started actively prying him with questions about profitability. This different type of approach is a key aspect of Phase 2. Last year, we took the word of agricultural experts and from literature about the potential profitability of the area. However, now, we are challenging what everyone says and everything we see. We asked him how many bags of onions his two acres could provide him. We then asked how much money he expected to receive per bag. We then we asked for a detailed schedule of the steps he expected to take from now until the harvest and then asked for the estimated price of every respective step. All of this information would later become inputs of a financial model we were creating to determine profitability of the dry-season. As someone who’s worked in finance for three summers, I am not a stranger to financial modeling. However, it was refreshing to see how some of the skills I was learning in the business world could be directly applicable to helping out those in need in this rural community in Ghana. Tomorrow we’re off to talk with a local farmer in order to contrast what he tells us against the Bawku farmer’s information. Thanks for all the support everyone!


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