Thursday, December 23, 2010

Phase 2 - Day 6

Today we were able go explore the potential site of the first local farmer’s dry-season plot. This man, like Dan, is also a teacher. However, he said that that he saw the Bawku man’s farm and instantly became interested in the extra opportunity to make money. We went to his area (which was currently covered with yam mounds – the staple crop in the area that grows in the rainy season) to discuss his involvement in the dry-season system. As with the Bawku farmer, we asked him about every step that he would need to take and how much money he thought the inputs would cost. This was important in order to determine how large the gap of expertise is between the outside demonstrator and the local participants. We also aimed to push back on individuals’ mentality on profitability. When we asked the man if he could make enough money to pay back for the system in one dry season, he replied, “Certainly.”

(From left to right: The farmer, myself, Dan, and Darryl discussing the particulars of the future dry-season farm)

However, when we told him that he would have to potentially pay for the costs in the form of a loan, he became much more hesitant and started asking more questions. This was an important discovery because Darryl and I have a hypothesis that perhaps the system yield was not as high as expected due to the lack of proper incentivization in Phase 1. In the first phase, people knew that by joining our system they could make more money, but they had nothing to lose if they fell short. By actively notifying the members of the community that they will have to pay-back for their opportunity to use our pumps and pipes this time around, we not only weed out the less serious participants, but we also make sure that those who do attempt it will try harder. If the rest of the farmers we talk to exhibit similar behaviors as the one we spoke to today then we may be onto something! Tomorrow, we’ll have a group meeting with the rest of the 10 farmers. I’m really looking forward to this.


(Discussing the profitability of course)

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