Agriculture is described as the backbone of Ghana’s economy. It contributes about 35% of GDP, employs 55% of the population (formal and informal), and contributes about 45% of all export earnings.
The agriculture sector is predominantly practised on a subsistence level. Rudimentary equipment such as hoes and cutlasses are deployed to produce about 80% of the total output. Though there are strides to push past the use of rudimentary equipment in farming, the sector still languishes in setbacks due to inadequate supply and distribution of agricultural inputs in Ghana, among other challenges.
Agricultural inputs in Northern Part of Ghana
In the Northern part of Ghana, farmers are heavily burdened with the added problem of poor access to quality agricultural inputs, namely improved seed, agrochemicals, and fertilizer, agronomic training, extension services, and market linkages. Sepenica Darko recognized these challenges and has developed a successful business model to meet that need.
In an interview with Ghana Talks Business, she stresses that the mission of her business is to “reduce the extensive distance travelled by smallholder farmers to access agricultural inputs.”
About Sepenica Anfumwaa Darko
Sepenica Anfumwaa Darko is the founder and team leader at FarmerTribe Company Limited, an agricultural input distribution company. She is twenty-nine (29) years old, and her business provides small-scale farmers in Northern Ghana with access to high-quality agricultural input such as fertilizers and agrochemicals. They also offer training programs to farmers.
Sepenica attended Afia Kobi Ampem Girls Senior High School, where she developed an interest in Geography and aspired to be a pilot or follow a career path that was related to Geography. On completion, She taught in a school in her community all the while waiting for the opportunity to pursue her Bachelor’s degree.
She subsequently gained admission at the University of Development Studies (UDS) to pursue a degree in Agribusiness Management respectively. This will begin the journey to building a successful business career in the Agricultural sector.
The Birth of FarmerTribe
During her time at the university, Sepenica engaged in community work for her 1st and 2nd years. This was a requirement of the University. As she undertook the community work in Brong Ahafo Region, she witnessed “a different light” to farming in the northern parts of Ghana. In her own words, she expressed that “I realised the way agric is done in the North is totally different”.
Difficulty in acquiring Agricultural Inputs in Ghana
In her 3rd year, she undertook an internship with a USAID-sponsored project, The Ghana Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) Project. There, she began to gain further knowledge in agricultural value and supply chains.
After her degree program, she undertook her National Service at the USAID-sponsored project as a data entry clerk and later moved to become the MME Assistant. In the capacity of the MME assistant, she noticed a trend in which farmers in the rural North were enthusiastic to learn about the best agricultural practices but were slow to implement or adapt the lessons from the training program to their agricultural farmland.
This led Sepenica to conduct a study with some colleagues. During the study, she, together with her colleagues found out that the farmers in the rural north had difficulty acquiring the technology or the input they needed. Her organization, therefore, organized “Input Promotion Day” in which before each farming season, the organization purchases a set of agricultural input and presents it to the farmers in the community who wish to purchase the input.
This was successful for just a time but wasn’t sustainable as the USAID-sponsored project was approaching its deadline. Farmers will soon be at square one (having difficulty acquiring agric inputs). She, therefore, had discussions with input dealers to supply farmers with what they needed directly through community vehicles. The input dealers refused, due to their unwillingness to bear the extra charges. A problem solver as she is, she offered to be the link between input dealers and the farmers. This gave birth to FarmerTribe Company Limited in 2019.
As a notable achievement, after a year of operation, FarmerTribe recently made it on the Forbes Africa 30 under Thirty list. Also, the company has positively impacted the livelihoods of close to six thousand farmers in Northern parts of Ghana after a year of operation