(picture of crop house at the Ebankese farm)
Roughly 80 percent of the world’s extremely poor people are estimated to live in rural areas, and around 60 percent work in agriculture. How do we find opportunities to create systemic, sustainable opportunities to help a community progress through agriculture?
We launched our partnership with the Konadu Basic School in Ghana in 2013. At this time, Clement Boamah was running a small makeshift school with proceeds from his farm projects. He was passionate about sustainable community development but he had trouble scaling the effort.
He had a grand vision and we became his partner.
Once we built a structure for the classrooms, student enrollment grew at a pace we couldn’t keep up with. And at the time, all our attention was focused on providing a quality education. What was lost, was Clement’s passion on building the community through agriculture.
We took a step back and evaluated our opportunities. We knew the below:
- We couldn’t keep up with the costs associated with the school on our own, we needed some on site income
- 80% of the community’s women were single parents and needed opportunities to grow and prosper
- Clement was extremely passionate about agriculture and farming
In 2015, we put a large investment into the Ebankese Mushroom Farm and then we waited for it to flourish. 6 women were rotated through the program and were so grateful for the experience. We sure were making mushrooms BUT contamination took well over 50% of our crops. Clement was afraid to tell us. Profits suffered.
We approached him and offered our support. We hired a farm manager and provided funding to build separate stations for each part of the harvesting process- this way contamination would be isolated. We put in a non-porous roof and floor. And contamination decreased, it fell by almost 30%.
By 2017 we knew that there was so much opportunity here to support the school but Konadu couldn’t make it past a few hundred dollars in profits a month. The spawn which was used to grow the crop was purchased from suppliers and we were dependent on what we could get from them. We needed to own the entire growth process in house.
Our saving grace came at the end of 2017 when kind folks at the Siegfried and Marianne Endlichhofer Trust showed interest in our school. The mission of the trust as instructed by late Siegfried and his wife Marianne is to expand access to education for youth around the world. A meaningful education provides children and their families with opportunities for the future, and perhaps most critically, hope.
We were granted a total of $20,000 from the trust to invest in our school. A large portion of this went towards development on the Ebankese farm. In 2018, Konadu was able to purchase an autoclave (mushroom cultivation equipment) and owned the spawn development process. We were no longer reliant on suppliers! And guess what?
As of September 2018, profits from the farm covered nearly 30% of OPEX! Today, the farm brings in over $1000 to help cover expenses at the Konadu Basic School. We are committed to helping Clement make the Ebankese Mushroom Farm a national example of success in the agricultural sector.