Our operational Beginning
The Pre-Feasibility Study
eGro set out do a pilot in the summer of 2016. The first objective was to find the right country and the right partners on the ground. In early spring 2016 we did a pre-feasibility study of Benin, Nepal and Uruguay. Three similar countries in size, but on three different continents with different cultures and languages. Basically we needed to find out if our assumptions about farming in emerging markets could be validated when put to the test.
There were a number of strategically positive reasons why we later chose to work in Ghana. Language and culture, INTERNET PENETRATION, infrastructure, and educational level are just some of them. Our first criteria was climate zone with high productivity and likelihood of percipitation indefinitely, easy access to soil and local labour and materials for construction. Could we make a difference with our new approach to the locals?
Did they need us...?
The reception was incredible! An early morning we recorded the first educational workshop in a field East of Mbatinga on video. Then at night, we showed the video with a projector up against the white wall of the mosque of another village; Mahakpe.
The farmers that watched their "neighbours" on the wall and heard their interviews in their native language explain what they had learned, were able to go out and do the same work, but twice as fast, and without any inputs or management from us.
They didn't need guidance nor directions from our agronomist or project manager, they did their own labour distribution in the fields, brought their own tools and took their own work breaks and organised a common lunch pack just around noon, exactly when needed.
We knew we were on to something here!
The core of the pilot project in 2016 started with a proof of concept - to prove that we could manage complex operations in the bush of Africa. One thing is logistics and language, another is local chieftaincy culture and customs.
We set out to verify that we are able to scale the education of local farmers by using digital media. Essentially we rented a video projector and brought it to three villages situated within a five km. area. In two days, we managed to visit all the chiefs, we showed the people living in the villages videos of agriculture and we presented them with inspiration and ideas about how agriculture could and possibly should be done in the future.
A Good Start is Half Finished
We ended on having 13 employees in Ghana; an agronomist, a project manager, a freelancer, eight field officers, one nursery caretaker, and one storage manager.
We went up from 16 farmers the first year of 2016 to 48 farmers in the second year 2017, and in 2018 112 farmers with a total of 125 fields over 140 acres were farming and planting trees for us.
They are ploughing their fields with our investments and the farmers have been working with planting trees using alley farming methods.
As an organisation we learned more than a few good things about the realities on the ground in Ghana, and were able to justify our place in the African soil.