Despite the many strategies adopted by the Government of Ghana and other stakeholders to attract youth to the agriculture sector, most young people in Ghana shy away from farming because perceptions that farming is tedious, underpaid work traditionally done by older generations.
Prince Owusu Danso is an exception. The 27-year-old is the youngest of nearly 400 outgrower business owners supported by the USAID/Ghana Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement II (ADVANCE II) project.
Prince has worked with the project since 2015. In 2007, he completed his technical education and started growing maize, using seeds and fertilizer he bought on credit, on one acre of land in the town of Ejura. From that one acre, he harvested 0.8 metric tons of maize. Happy with his yield, Prince decided to increase his land to two acres the following year.
He now owns a 45-acre maize farm and sells fertilizer and other products on credit to 254 smallholder farmers, who collectively cultivate more than 1,000 acres of land in six communities throughout the Ejura-Sekyeredumase District.
Prince (left) educates a vendor on proper handling of an agro-chemical in one of his input shops.
While working with the ADVANCE II project, Prince learned how to row plant, use certified seeds, and properly apply fertilizer and other agrochemicals. The project provided Prince with a Samsung tablet and Pico projector for recordkeeping, tracking his farmers, and teaching them about good agronomic practices. ADVANCE II also helped Prince prepare a business plan and linked him with Esoko Limited and Ignitia Ghana Limited to receive weekly text messages on agronomic tips, commodity prices, and weather updates to inform his planting and harvesting schedules. As Prince’s knowledge and business grow, so does his income.
“I recently completed a 16-bedroom house in Ejura and [am] taking care of the education of four siblings. I have become a role model for the young men in Ejura who approach me to learn from my experience. Farming is not only for old people; young people like you can also go into it.” — Prince Owusu Danso, a young outgrower business owner in the Ashanti Region and USAID/Ghana ADVANCE II participant
When the project connected Prince with two buyers — Spice Farms and Akate Farms — he supplied them with 10 metric tons of maize for their poultry feed, earning 135,000 GHC (US$30,134). The next year, he also supplied six and half metric tons of maize to four end-markets in Ejura and Bibiani for 80,000 GHC (US$17,857). Prince recently opened three new shops selling agricultural inputs and hired three young people to manage each. He also set up a delivery system and purchased two motorbikes for his employees to use.
These services are helping smallholder farmers like Lucy Fabea increase their yields. “I have benefited a lot from USAID ADVANCE through Prince,” she said. “Previous yields used to be between 600 and 800 kilograms of maize per acre, but, with the use of improved seeds and adoption of good agronomic practices, I had 1500 kilograms per acre in the 2017 farming season.”
Now Prince is working to create a one-stop farm service center, where his farmers can access tractor services, inputs, and extension education. He is busy promoting the rearing of small ruminants among young farmers as another income source. And soon, even more young farmers will hear from him. With the project’s support Prince plans to buy air time on a local radio station to educate and encourage other young people to work in agriculture.