Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Helps Ghanaian Cashew Cooperative
Cooperative Sees Improvements in Management, Capacity, and Profits
Located in central Ghana’s Brong Ahafo region, the Busunya Cashew Farmers’ Cooperative (BCFC) is a perfect example of how the strengthening of organizations positively impacts leadership in farming communities. The BCFC group was established in 2010 by the African Cashew Initiative (ACI) with the objective of improving farmers’ competitiveness through training, integrating a farm management approach, and increasing cashew profit.
The BCFC leadership knew little about how to manage a group and the association faced challenges such as a lack of a constitution, no clear direction, no understanding of officer duties and responsibilities, no records, and no sustainable structure or established system for member fees and dues collection. Previously, the association struggled to function and its members were vulnerable to fraud because leaders lacked contract management skills and they struggled to secure good markets for their produce. Enter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer Corine Quarterman, a business consultant and trainer from Vermont.
During her May 30-June 15, 2014, visit, Quarterman taught BCFC members about leadership roles and responsibilities. She helped the group develop bylaws and a simple system of manual record keeping through easy-to-understand training documents. This included journals, income statements, and daily time and production schedules to guide the group’s activities.
She also recommended the establishment of a new Board of Directors and the payment of dues. She advised leaders on how to set up committees with technical support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to identify resources for bulk purchase and a marketing committee to search for potential buyers. Quarterman suggested the group rent a warehouse to store its produce.
Thanks to F2F Training, Cashew Cooperative Connects with Local Buyer to Negotiate Better Rate
Quarterman noted an enthusiasm during her assignment that continued after her visit, as the group followed her recommendations, which led to many benefits. When contacted by the F2F team during a monitoring visit, the new BCFC chair declared that the group is now working with Akuafo Adamfo, a local buyer, and that it has been able to negotiate a rate of three Ghana Cedis (GHC; 0.85 USD) per kilo of cashew instead of the initial 1.5 GHC (0.43 USD) per kilo they previously received. They have already sold about 36,200 kg of cashew (equivalent to approximately $28,960) to the company, and Akuafo Adamfo is willing to buy their produce twice per week.
The group now rents a warehouse where members store their produce. This linkage to a new buyer and the improved negotiated sales rate increased the group’s sale value by 50 percent ($14,480 to $28,960) over a period of eight months. More farmers are now eager to join the association and when F2F Ghana visited, the group reported a growth in membership by 38 persons already. BCFC is grateful to Quarterman and the ACDI/VOCA West Africa F2F program. The chair of the group J. K. Amoah shared: “Farmer-to-Farmer has opened our eyes. Indeed we threw money away over the years.”