Togolese farmers are being trained in how to make better use of their land and, by establishing detailed business plans, they have also improved their access to finance.
“I’ve been growing pineapples for at least 30 years, but what the Farmer Business School (FBS) has taught us is how to improve our profitability by keeping good accounts and avoiding unnecessary losses and waste,” says Aimé Mensah, who owns a 1.5 ha pineapple field in Bagbé, north of the Togolese capital Lomé.
Established by the German development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, FBS is part of a major business management training programme involving 400,000 farmers in 14 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As well as learning the basics of business management (including accounting, stock management, reinvesting a share of the profits, etc.), the region’s pineapple, cocoa, coffee and cashew producers have learned to draw up business plans to facilitate their access to agricultural credit.
Launched in 2013 in Togo, around 12,300 producers have been trained by 86 trainers in all five regions. The farmers have learned how to “combine technical and managerial knowledge, and to master key agricultural management tools for decision-making in order to optimise farm operations,” explains Kossi Dodji Apedo, FBS programme coordinator in Togo.
Blewussi Akrodou grows pineapples and avocados in Danyi village, 85 km north of Lomé. Having taken the FBS course, he has learned to better predict his cash flow and manage his expenses accordingly. Subsequently, he joined a cooperative with 82 other producers in his region. Through this cooperative, Akrodou explains, “We have learned to sort our products – separating the large pineapples from the smaller ones – and to price them accordingly. We work together to negotiate and deliver our products to export companies.” Selling together in this way enables him to achieve a turnover of around €1,219 per year, more than twice as much as before.