Ashesi duo win $20,000 grant to impact farming communities in Northern Ghana

In 2016, Moses Yangnemenga spent the long break working on his family’s farm in Nandom Biiregaugn, a largely agrarian community in Upper West Ghana. Year after year though, Moses had observed severe setbacks in the farming sector within his community; they either had to deal with not being able to afford farming supplies or consistently low yields.

That year was no different; Moses’ family’s harvest was underwhelming, as they were unable to raise enough funds in time, to acquire the needed fertilizer for the crops.

“Growing up, I had always looked forward to adding value to economic activities within my community to help shape our living conditions,” said Moses. “Not only is there increasing food insecurity among rural farmers due to low crop yields, but also, the youth have become increasingly discouraged about the potential of the agriculture sector.”

Back at Ashesi, he heard about the D-Prize, an initiative that funds new entrepreneurs who are working towards making impact through proven poverty interventions in developing countries. He teamed up with first year roommate, Sihle Magaula, from Swaziland, and together they formed Tieme Ndo, an initiative to support farmers in Northern Ghana.

A year later, in May 2017, the D-Prize awarded Moses and Sihle, both MasterCard Foundation scholars, $20,000, to run a pilot for their initiative. The focus of Tieme Ndo, which in Dagaari, a local dialect, means Push me up, is two-fold: to provide farmers supplies, at the right time, on credit, and also to help  make the farmers financially independent.

“Most of the farmers only do the basic farming, planting and harvesting, and thereafter have no impact in the agricultural value chain,” said Sihle, a Computer Science major, who read Agricultural Science in Senior High School. “Besides distributing these supplies and raising agriprenuers, we want them to have a broader input in the agricultural value chain.”

In the space of two months, Moses and Sihle, have worked in four communities in the Upper West Region, and their work has benefitted over 500 farmers, far exceeding their goal of 130. Not only have they created a supply chain for supplies and started training the farmers in entrepreneurship and effective farming practices, but also, the initiative has helped the farmers create networks and associations where they share experiences and assess progress.

For the two the experience and impact thus far has drawn them further into extending the program. While Sihle, a Computer Science student, has dedicated his capstone project to building an application to help connect farmers better to extension officers, Moses continues to work closely with the farmers in building a community of successful farmers. “One of the things I’ve learnt is to build trust,” said Moses. “We are trusting them with our input, in that they will pay back at the right time, while improving their yields, and also they are trusting us by agreeing to work with us to also learn from us.”