In 2013, the Dekaworwor Rice Grower’s Association in Twapease, Ghana has seen a dramatic increase in rice yields and incomes have nearly doubled. The Association has used this additional income to expand educational opportunities for children in the community and to extend credit to members. All primary school aged children now attend school, because their school fees are covered by the Association. The Association has also paid for promising teenagers to attend junior high school and trade school. Last year, a member of the group was severely injured in a motorcycle accident and the Association lent this man 500 Ghana cedis ($263) through their credit system to cover his medical expenses.
How was this group able to increase rice yields, double incomes, and provide these services to their community? Through hard work and some help from the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program.
Farmer-to-Farmer is a USAID-funded program that allows American agricultural experts to go to developing and transitional countries to volunteer to share their knowledge and expertise with local farmers, farmer groups, and businesses.
Since the two assignments, members’ yields have increased from 0.85 tons per acre to 1.98 tons per acre, resulting in an average increase of $446 per acre effectively doubling the farmers’ sales of rice paddy.
The Dekaworwor Rice Assocation is one such group that received assistance from F2F volunteers through ACDI/VOCA. The Dekaworwor Rice Association is a cooperative that consists of 64 members, most of whom farm rice and cocoa. Two American volunteers, fielded by ACDI/VOCA, worked with the Dekaworwor Rice Association, Dr. Addae and Matthew Wolverton.
Prior to the arrival of the F2F volunteers the Dekaworwor farmers planted low quality seeds through the broadcasting method. The group was loosely organized and members did not know how to keep financial records. Dr. Addae explained to the group that they could yield much more rice by using higher quality seeds and planting manually in lines. He worked with the farmers to demonstrate how this is done.
The Association has also received assistance from Mr Wolverton, who taught the cooperative how to keep financial records to track spending and earnings. He also worked with the group to establish a constitution, which clearly laid out duties and responsibilities for members of the cooperative.
Since the two F2F assignments, members’ yields have increased from 0.85 tons per acre to 1.98 tons per acre, resulting in an average increase of $446 per acre effectively doubling the farmers’ sales of rice paddy. This is due to the successful assignment on agricultural practices and post-harvest handling from Dr. Addae.
Additionally, thanks to Matthew’s assignment on organizational capacity building, the association, together with other rice groups, now bags their own rice with their brand name and due to the improvement in their quality of produce NWRGA is making very good market penetration in the Adansi South District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana where they are located.
The members can now track what they spend and how much they earn. Now that the group has a constitution in place, they are much more cohesive and organized. Meetings take place regularly, members fulfill their duties, and dues are consistently collected. One of the most important changes is how the group now works together and cares for one another.
One member said, “We are so much more unified now than we were before the training. We care for each other now.”
Another member summed it up and said, “Now there is love, unity, and respect in our group.” And of course, the group is expanding educational opportunities and extending credit.