Africa Regional: Farmer Business School: rural women fit for business

Overview

Cocoa is one of the main agricultural products and exports of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and
Cameroon. More than three million smallholdings produce 70% of world cocoa supply. Additional
agricultural income is derived mainly from food production. The average yields for cocoa and food
crops remain far below the possibilities of recommended cultivation practices. Reasons for this are the
lack of technical and entrepreneurial skills and difficult access to input markets as well as to technical
and financial services. The result are average incomes of 1.50 USD per day and person. High
dependence on cocoa as source of income and strong fluctuating world market prices lead to
impoverishment, malnutrition and social problems such as child labour.
The Sustainable Smallholder Agri-Business Programme (SSAB) is commissioned by the German Federal
Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). European Union finances Cocoa-Food Link
Programme (FED/2014/349-955) in the framework of the Intra-ACP New Commodities Programmes.
The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending is an agency of Central Bank
of Nigeria and co-finances the programme in Nigeria.
Our goal is to help 350,000 male and female smallholders, mainly in cocoa growing areas of Côte
d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Cameroon, to sustainably improve their incomes and food supplies
from diversified production.
We count on thriving partnerships with over 60 public and civil society organizations and companies
across the region. We support public and private extension services to organize business skills training
for smallholders following the Farmer Business School approach. Agro-dealers and microfinance
institutions establish with our assistance Business Service Centres providing inputs, technical advice,
market information and agricultural loans based on formal bank savings as collateral. With our
partners, we implement innovative ICT-supported training approaches to intensify food production.
Our approaches are made available to interested programs, companies, organizations in Africa and to
the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

Farmer Business School: what is it about?

The Famer Business School Approach has been developed
by the Project “Sustainable Cocoa Business (SCB)” of GIZ
in 2010 for cocoa smallholders with support from World
Cocoa Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation. During 5 mornings smallholders learn in the
Farmer Business School organized in the villages, how to
capture costs of production and calculate profits for
different farm enterprises. By doing so, they discover the
income potential of the recommended cultivation
techniques and make decisions as an individual or as a
group, how they develop these for themselves. Other important training issues relate to healthy
nutrition, financial planning for the household and the farm business, producer organization and
access to financial services.

Achievements

With support of GIZ World Cocoa
Foundation members, Bill& Melinda
Gates Foundation and NIRSAL Nigeria,
our partner organizations and
companies have trained in Farmer
Business Schools 226.645 male
smallholders and 83.401 rural women
that produce cocoa and food products.
Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and
Nigeria. Overall, the partners mobilize
nearly 800 trainers and more than 100
supervisors. This makes the training
most cost-effective with 6 to 8 EUR per person.

External and GIZ-evaluations show that these FBS-farmers put investment decisions on good
agricultural and post-harvest practice into practice: They open up savings accounts (Total: 61%;
Women: 62%), received loans for cocoa and food production (Total: 39%; Women: 36%); achieve higher
yields (43% more cocoa, 50 to 100% more maize per hectare). They invest in the renewal of their cocoa
farms with hybrid varieties (Total: 43%; Women: 35%), in the education of their children (Total: 64%;
Women 29%) and improve their housing conditions (Total: 36%; Women: 17%). 43% of the trained groups have set up producer organizations. Annual net income from food products has increased
between 630 and 830 EUR per smallholding1.
In addition, Farmer Business School has further evolved. According to a recent study 2 FBS has become
a unique selling point of German development cooperation in Africa. Since 2012, 8 other programs
have adopted and adapted the approach to other production systems. These include Competitive Africa
Cotton Initiative, ProDRA Togo, Benin PROAGRI, AISP Zimbabwe, Competitive African Rice Initiative,
MOAP Ghana, PDA Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire ProFIAB. Training materials are available for the lead
crops cocoa, cotton, rice, cashew, coffee, sesame, tomato, potato, peanut, mango. In each programme,
at least two food products are tackled. 

Additional 160,000 small farmers have already completed their FBS training in these programs. In the
Green Innovation Centers in Cameroon, Mali and Nigeria, the introductions are already underway.
Across all programmes, on average, 20-44 percent of farmers trained are women. The percentage of
women trained depends on the farming system and country, as well as to what extent the lead crop is
mainly a male or female activity. The lowest percentage of women trained on FBS is 12% for cocoa
farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, which is due to a focus on cooperatives dominated by male members. It is
noteworthy that in two cases, women constitute the majority of farmers trained on FBS (in the case of
rice farmers trained on FBS in Nigeria, 58% are women. In Zimbabwe as well, the majority of farmers are
women (over 60%).

Success stories from Farmer Business School trained women farmers

In the following you find some success stories of rural women in Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d‘Ivoire and Ghana.
We hope they will help you to understand the “retard” effect of Farmer Business School and particularly the
diversity of changes and successes achieved by women after the training.

Nigeria

Mrs. Omidiora Elizabeth was trained in January 2014, in Ife East LGA of Osun State. She applied FBS
tools and techniques that she was taught by introducing vegetable production into her farming
business.
This has greatly improved the living standard of her family. She has grown successfully and has been
able to purchase a sewing machine, pepper milling machine and also runs a mini-market shop.

Mrs. Falola Jemilat Abiodun was trained in early 2015 as one of the women in Ileogbo/Oke-osun school
8 in Aiyedire Local Government. She was a very active member of the class and eventually emerged as
the group treasurer. Her group was duly
registered as an “FBS Multipurpose Cooperative
society”. Before the intervention of GIZ Farmer
Business training in her farming activities, she
was of the opinion that farming is just a mere
tradition and not a business. However as an
arable crop and poultry farmer, she adopted
FBS innovations and tools that are relevant to
her farming enterprises such as record keeping
of her daily activities, expenses and costs. She
saved more in the bank, used improved seed
varieties and applied good and proper
agrochemicals and was also very active in the
group that was formed after the training.

Presently, she has stepped up into farm mechanization advancing from manual system of poultry
keeping which involved the deep litter system to the battery cage system of housing for poultry. Her
poultry stock has moved up from 500 to 1500 layers. Equally, she has diversified into turkey
production in order to earn more income and redistribute the risks in her business. She has sourced for
a new marketing outlets and also employed two (2) poultry attendants.

Ghana

FBS women graduates of Mensah, Nyakrom District have sustainable access to finance
In Ghana, Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and private partners ensure the delivery and supervision of FBS
training to farmers. Since 2010, 102,394 cocoa smallholders, including 31,089 women, have been
trained in over 3,000 communities., One of these communities is Mensah, located within the Odoben
operational area in Nyakrom District. The main occupation of its members is farming, especially cocoa
farming.

The FBS success story of Mensah community began on 1st June 2011. Having been appointed as the
new Community Extension Agent (CEA) for COCOBOD’s Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED),
Patrick Eyison made his first visit to Mensah with a particular mission: He wanted to assist the
community in improving their knowledge base and skill in cocoa production and other alternate
livelihood. After his visit, some farmers had changed their perception about farming and started to take
informed decisions for their farming businesses. Many farmers were enthused and the CEA assisted
them to come together as a group. When the Mensah group was formed, it counted a total membership
of 55, including 26 males and 29 females. The group was then divided into two in order to conduct an
effective FBS-training with a maximum group size of 30.The first FBS training at Mensah was conducted from
19th to 23rd December 2011 counting 30
participants, including 20 males and 10 females. The
second training was conducted on 23rd to 27th April
2012 with 25 participants, including 6 males and 19
females. Both trainings were supervised by the District
Extension Coordinator (DEC) and the District Cocoa
Officer (DCO). “The training was very satisfactory and
an eye opener for most of us, especially myself” said
Madam Asana Nketia, who is one of the FBS
graduates, in a video interview. Others also stated
that the training was not just an eye opener but had also created a platform for them to make informed
decisions. Taking farming as a business through adoption of modern methods of farming, such as
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), savings, good record keeping, diversification of farming enterprises,
importance of belonging to a group are only some of the informed decisions which were now being
taken by the FBS participants.
Female members, being the majority of the group, sorted the
assistance of the CEA not only on the farm – by way of
demonstrations of some GAPs – but also off the farm. Hence, the
CEA assisted them to open a savings account at Nyakrom Rural
Bank which is located within the District. The Bank then
introduced a Farm Product Scheme to assist the farmers with
input loans within the Bank’s operational areas. With the help of
CHED, the effectiveness of the group and of course their financial
strength, the farmers were able to benefit from this schedule.
The group members were recommended to the Bank as vibrant
and creditworthy customer by CHED. In collaboration with CHED,
Nyakrom also visited the group members to ascertain the
conditions of their farms. In the end all the farms were approved, the farmer’s needs were assessed
and they received their requested inputs.
Since its implementation four years ago, group members have benefited from Nyakrom’s scheme in
several ways:

Farmers improved their production and income levels as well as savings by 35% on average within 3
years after FBS-training.
 Individuals are using their extra income to pay school fees (primary or higher education), buy farm
inputs, hire laborers to assist them on their farms, save for future uncertainties or live up to their
basic responsibilities, such as providing good and balanced food as well as decent clothing for
their family.
 Farming income has successfully been diversified by engaging in additional livelihoods, such as
cassava, maize, plantain and vegetable production. As a result, dependency on cocoa has been
reduced and food security during the lean season has been improved.
According to Patrick Owiredu, the DEC for Nyakrom District, the initiative has significantly contributed
to improve the life of female farmers: “What fascinated me was the fact that a 70-year old woman who
used to squat can now boast of a single room which she built herself and she gave credit to the eye
opener FBS received from GIZ and COCBOD-CHED.”
During the past four years, the Mensah group has taken a total loan of 69,238.25 GHC, being
equivalent to 18,713.04 USD, which has been used to buy inputs. With the help of FBS training and
other interventions by CHED, Nyakrom has further been able to support some 2,085 farmers with an
amount of 478,050 GHC, being equivalent to 126,468.25 USD, between 2011 and November 2015.
Each year, recovery of 100% has been reached, which could be attributed to the fact that FBS graduates
have developed a business eye for their farms and are also adapting to the modern way of farming
which yields better results for them. Because of farmers’ business consciousness, the Bank has also
been willing to assist them in engaging in additional livelihood so far as their cost and benefit analysis
is worth it.
GIZ/SSAB and its implementing partners in Ghana are proud to say that FBS training has been one of
the most essential prerequisites for any cocoa farmer to qualify for a credit facility from Nyakrom Rural
Bank. Hence, the collaborative intervention of CHED, COCOBOD and GIZ as well as the experience from
Mensah community and Nyakrom serves as an example for other communities, districts and banks to
adapt FBS training, improve gender inclusion and provoke a huge paradigm shift among male and
female cocoa farmers, so that the better days of the cocoa industry are yet to come.

Côte d’Ivoire
Diversify production and income … beyond agriculture

Let’s listen to Mrs. Kouakou Ahou, a cocoa producer from Touih in Côte d’Ivoire: “I am Mrs Ahou
Viviane Kouakou, I am 41 years old and member of Coopérative Agricole de Touih (CAT3) since five
years. I am among the members of CAT that graduated from FBS since 2010 and underwent also the
Farmer Field School training organized by ANADER. I graduated from FBS on 24th June 2011 together
with 4 other women and 25 male producers. 

I am satisfied with this training because it helped me to change my bad
habitudes in good management habitudes. I plan my activities properly.
After the training I have diversified my production emphasizing more on
food production. Today I produce cocoa (5 ha), yam (0,25 ha), cassava
(0,25 ha), rice (0,25 ha) and vegetables (0,25 ha). I apply good agricultural
practice and use only improved seeds and fertilizer that give high yields. I
protect my crops against diseases and insects following strictly the advice
of the ANADER Extension Agent. My harvest has increased a lot compared
to the preceding years. Better yield and additional income helped me to
increase my saving deposit. I have invested the additional income from
these improvements in a shop. I am satisfied with the support from GIZ
and ANADER. Thanks to the trainings, I produce almost all the food needed
by my family, I contribute to our family budget and to the school fees of our children. I am ready to share my successful experience. Come to see me in
Touih, I sell nice clothing at the market.”

Cameroon
Lessons learnt effective for business … and the next generation

Mrs. Ndzana Toua Bibiane Atouga, Vice-President of Dames Apostoliques Marie Mère de Dieu d’Obala.
« I’m Mrs. Bibiane Ndzana Toua Atouga Widow, 45, Agricultural producer in the area Obala-Batchenga,
Central Region Cameroon. Before the Farmer Business School, I wanted to do large plots to earn more
money. I usually cultivated in association and disorderly on the same plot with hopes of having a better
profit on infertile soils.
In 2012, I was trained and graduated from Farmer Business
School with support from the diocese of Obala, partner of GIZ. I
am a member of the Association of Apostolic Ladies of Mary
Mother of God Obala.

Since that time, I realize good things: “I plan my activities with
cropping calendars; I calculate before each activity to see if I
make a profit or not before deciding; I measure my plots with
GPS to know my area to find out what amount of money
provided for the plow my land, how much seed and fertilizer to
predict; I opened my account at the Diocese gives to save my
money first and think about its use for family needs and my
future investments. This helped me to obtain a microcredit from the Diocese that allowed me to
increase my shop’s turnover with drinks. I manage my shop in parallel with my farm and I make an
average profit of 80,000 FCFA per month. That reassures me and makes me happy, all thanks to the
training in entrepreneurship.

In 2013, I cultivated one hectare of peanuts. I spent a total of 420 000FCFA. I had a production of 41
bags unshelled and shelled 06 bags. I sold a large part (about 80%) at 860 000 FCFA. Since 2014, with
the support and advice of the Agriculture District Delegate of Batchenga from whom I sought technical
services for better returns, I put in place 04 hectares of maize from improved variety, well measured,
well plowed, planted, tended and fertilized with specific fertilizers and good quality in compliance with
technical standards. I always mark my expenses that rotate regularly turn to 1.15 million FCFA. I
produce per year between 2-3 tonnes of maize per hectare shelled despite the pitfalls related to
climate change, scarcity of labor and market risk (we have really crooked buyers around here). After the
calculations, I get the benefit which varies between 150,000 and 200,000 FCFA per hectare.

In April 2015, I have re-energized the Common Interest Group (ICG PROVIB) in which I held the function
of CEO. In June 2015, we contacted the ACEFA program and had signed a collaboration agreement for
the financing of our activities: Construction of a warehouse to enable us to better conserve our maize
production and linked to this a henhouse for 1000 broiler chickens. This is part of the diversification of
our activities and helps is to add value to our production which comes to more than 60% in chicken
feed. The group became more cohesive and members are becoming more involved in the activities and contributions payable seen to constitute our personal contribution estimated at 15% in the realization
of our project.
Convinced of the positive results after FBS training, I actually recycled in 2015 during a training session
where two of my children were also graduated. I now have ensured that the next generation takes over
and I am fulfilled. Today I raise my children well as a widow. I can easily pay their schooling, including a
graduate of the catholic seminary and ready to be ordained during this month of December 2015. Two
are in higher education. I am very happy and fulfilled with my bargains. I diversified my activities and
increased my income thanks to the Farmer Business School of GIZ. From 2016 onwards, my project is
to put in place every year 01 ha of improved variety of cocoa in the locality of Batchenga. My medium
term objective is to plant 10 hectares of cocoa.”

 

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