Some industry experts have said changing the face of agriculture across the African continent will be crucial in empowering farmers to become financially literate, in order for them to see their work more as a business than they have previously.
According to the Senior West Africa Advisory Associate of Root Capital, Miss Arame Wade, farmers on the continent – unlike their Western and European counterparts – have for many years engaged in the ‘trade’ purely as a means of survival along with their families, rather than commercialising it for broader economic gains.
Owing to this, she noted, despite having vast arable lands and favourable weather conditions, farming has not been as lucrative as it is in other major developing countries outside the continent.
It is to overcome this challenge that she said farmers should be engaged to be made aware that farming is a business.
This, she added, should be done by building their capacity in financial management training, “so that they will be in a position to do cashflows as well as undertaking some financial planning, especially during the crop calendar”.
But coming from the backdrop that banks consider farming as a risky business – hence their indifference in lending to farmers, she asserted that when farming is made less risky through financial education of farmers, banks will be willing to extend credit to farmers.
Miss Wade, who was speaking in an interview at the end of a two-week financial literacy workshop organised by Roots Capital in collaboration with Kuapa Kokoo and supported by the MasterCard Foundation for 40 cocoa farmers in Kumasi, said their hope is to see a difference in farming as they get this education.
The Executive Secretary of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Cooperative Union (KKFU), Mr. Nelson Adubofo, explained that the decision to organise the workshop stems from how complicated the farming industry is becoming – hence the need to make farmers consider what they do as a business.
He noted that building the capacity of farmers this way will help them plan their operational finances as well as be enabled to ascertain the cost component of their farming activities.
Also, he added, taking the farmers through such financial trainings will help them to compare their expenditure with income while being able to save toward their well-being.
The Portfolio Manager, Anglophone West Africa-Root Capital, Mr. Francis Opoku-Mensah, also speaking in an interview noted that the beneficiaries were among others taken through a ‘planning for the crop calendar’ in order to increase their yields.
Additionally, he said they were also schooled on how to manage their working capital, “so that at the end of the day, while taking cocoa farming as a business they will able to save funds for their activities”.
He noted the beneficiaries selected for the ‘trainer of trainers’ session will be assisted to also impart the knowledge acquired to other members of their societies who could not be directly involved.
Particularly as the issue of aging farmers continues to give concern, it is seen that deploying such innovation in farming will attract the youth, according to some of the beneficiary farmers.
A beneficiary cocoa farmer, Mr. Patrick Awutey from Akyem Ofoase in the Eastern Region, said prior to the workshop he didn’t make it a priority to thoroughly plan his farming activities.
But after undergoing the training, he acknowledged the importance planning and methodically following the activities planned for the crop calendar year as well as the budget prepared.
Mr. Awuah insisted that if the current crop-farmers are able to apply financial knowledge to make their farming work a business, it will make farming more attractive for the youth to also join.
Opayin Samson Cobbinah, also a cocoa farmer from Wassa Akropong in the Western Region, said now he can design a ‘crop budget’ for his farming work during each crop season after undergoing the training.
He added that given the need to save toward their businesses, they were taken through the advantages and difference in opting for a fixed deposit account or buying Treasury bills.