Racheal Derchie put aside plans to be a banker to help rural farmers earn more for their families. (Photo: Nana Kofi Acquah/Grameen Foundation)
Everyone has had an embarrassing moment at work. Racheal Derchie’s came on a very rainy day in the Brong Ahafo region of central Ghana, as she set out on her motorbike to meet with more than a dozen farmers on their individual farms.
A soft-spoken woman of 26, Racheal laughs about it now: how she arrived at the farmer’s field soaking wet—and with her trouser leg torn. The farmer laughed too. And that broke the ice. He shared information about his farm, and she listened closely, entering the data on her tablet. Then she shared advice about farming and record keeping for farming as a business.
Born and raised on her father’s farm, and university-educated, Racheal understands agriculture and knows the Brong Ahafo region well. Although it is the breadbasket of Ghana, most of its farmers are poor. But Racheal knows that agriculture can be profitable. “I have seen it myself,” she says. “When you know what you are doing and adopting good farming practices, you are able to increase your yields.”
She works with 200 smallholder farmers in a program developed by Grameen Foundation with ACDI/VOCA. She uses Grameen Foundation’s digital app suite to map each farm, and to determine how much seed and fertilizer it needs. She shares farming advice, and helps some of the farmers obtain loans to purchase the inputs they need. Later, she will buy their crops on behalf of Amansons Farms, ensuring the farmers can repay their loans and earn additional income. All this is new to the farmers, whose low yields have kept them poor.
“Before I started working with the farmers, most of them weren’t keeping records. They didn’t know much about drought resistant varieties, but now they are trying to adopt it, and most of them are keeping their records well,” she says.
Racheal didn’t plan to work in agriculture. She earned a college degree in economics, and thought she would be a banker. But now she sees things differently.
“I love to meet with people and I love to put the food on people’s table. So when I realized I could help poor producers adopt good agricultural practices in order to produce more, I just become so happy for myself.”
Racheal hopes to establish her own farm in the future, and grow food crops like maize and soyabean. Her friends, many of whom have left their farms for the city, are skeptical. But Racheal is determined. She still has her torn trousers. “I’ve kept it for reference,” she says.