Darryl and I arranged a meeting with 6 of the 10 farmers today. We already met with the Bawku expert and the first local farmer, but given time constraints, we needed a group meeting in order to get to the rest of the participants in time. The group included 4 of the farmers from the previous farm as well as 2 new individuals. We started with some basic questions. We asked the farmers why they originally joined the system and what they hoped to gain. The general consensus was that they knew they could make more money (needed to pay for food, medical expenses, and school fees for their children) from farming in the dry-season. They also emphasized that they knew people in America had given us the funds for the pumps and pipes, so they did not want to disappoint them.
Next , we moved to more specific questions. We asked the farmers to give us the step-by-step details on the dry-season process last year. They explained to us how they went from initially clearing the land all the way to transplanting and watering the seeds and gave us the respective durations for each step. Then we started prying into what they felt went wrong. Various reasons were given but we tried to identify the main issues (too late of a start, shortage of seeds, distractions like the death of the Chief, etc). However, they clearly stated that they understood that most new and worthwhile things in life take time, so they felt that they could surely create a better yield this year. We also promised to make sure we’d do our part to help them with whatever improvements they needed.
From there, we started discussing the loan structure. We explained that the pumps and the pipe system were not free and to use them, they would eventually have to pay back so we could buy supplies for more community members and other communities. The farmers all agreed. From there, Darryl and I told the group that we would be taking steps to determine the cost inputs for the total system and the cost of the loan. We then encouraged the farmers to discuss amongst themselves to create a constitution on how they would pay back the loan, save money for reinvesting in the farm, and split the remaining profits. After the plan was laid out, we agreed to meet again later in the week to finalize the agreement. This was another huge step for Phase 2.