Our project, co-financed by Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), is coming to an end. We asked some of the participating producers about the impact our work has had on them.
Esso Daniel, 35, married, father of three
"I was able to buy a piece of land by selling organic soy to gebana", says Esso Daniel. The 35-year-old Togolese and his wife live with their three children, who all go to school, in the village of Kparou in Wahala, which belongs to Haho Prefecture.
Esso Daniel is not actually a farmer, but a trained carpenter. But in 2007 he began to grow small volumes of conventional soybeans and sell them at the local market. The price at the time fluctuated between CFA 500 and 550 per "bol", which is a local unit of measurement equal to around 3.5 kg. CFA 550 is equal to just under 1 Swiss franc.
When Esso Daniel visited the neighbouring village of Zongo a few years later, the farmers there told him about gebana and how they were selling organic soy to this company. When he heard how much gebana was paying for organic soy, his excitement grew. Back in his village, he convinced his brothers to organise themselves into a group. They called themselves "la patience". Other farmers joined them and, in the end, the group had 15 members.
During our first discussion, they learned what they had keep in mind if they wanted to sell organic soybeans to us: no chemical fertilisers or pesticides, buffer zones around the plots to prevent contamination from conventional fields and so on. We gave the members of "la patience" high-quality seeds, which they would only have to pay for after the harvest.
On a cultivated area of 0.75 ha, Esso Daniel generated an income of around CFA 200,000, which is around 331 Swiss francs. He would have had to work long hours as a carpenter for six months to earn the same amount, he says.
He used the money to make the down payment on his land, which cost him CFA 400,000 in total. Esso Daniel wants to build a house on the land and later grow soy on 2 ha. His greatest difficulty at the moment is that he doesn't have a peeling machine for the beans. He has to rent one for CFA 3,000 per 150 kg of beans.gebana
Logossou Mikossoukpo, 42, married, father of four
"With the proceeds from the sale of organic soybeans, I bought a pair of oxen that I can now harness to my farming equipment. I use their dung as a natural fertiliser on my field", says Logossu Mikossoukpo. He is not actually a farmer either, but a carpenter. Logossu Mikossoukpo and his wife have four children and live in Kpota. He is the treasurer of the Sokoto Group, which has 11 members.
Logossou Mikossoukpo turned to farming because he wasn't earning enough as a carpenter. He had the good fortune of inheriting 5 ha of land from his parents. He farms three of them, growing corn, beans, millet and some vegetables – everything he needs to feed his family. In the past, he was able to hire the oxen to plough his field, pay for fertiliser and a number of other things by selling some of his produce. Each year, he spent CFA 25,000 for the oxen and at least CFA 54,000 per hectare on fertiliser. That's a lot of money for a farmer in Togo.
Logossu Mikossoukpo learned about gebana through a survey that was carried out in his region. After gathering more information, he participated in the training sessions we had organised over the past two years as part of the DEG project.
Like Esso Daniel, Logossou Mikossoukpo was excited to learn that we pay farmers like him directly. Which is why he decided to grow organic soybeans on an area of 1.5 ha. The first harvest was smaller than he had hoped because there was flooding on part of the land. Still, he managed to harvest some good quality produce from 0.5 ha and sell it to us. This earned him CFA 175,000. The money helped him buy two oxen in 2018, which cost around CFA 250,000. Now he no longer has to hire the animals for ploughing. And since he is no longer allowed to use chemical fertiliser anyway, he is saving on two fronts.
Logossou Mikossoukpo has even turned the tables and is now hiring out his oxen to other farmers. He says that this has earned him around CFA 35,000.
Next season, he plans on growing at least 2 ha of organic soybeans.
Kondja Kocou, 48, married, father of six
"Selling organic soybeans to gebana has enabled me to pay my children's school fees and invest in home improvements", says Kondja Kocou. He and his wife live with their six children in the village of Alou-Copé. Their daughter is 24 and their five boys are still in school. Konja Kocou is not like the other two Togolese farmers in this article. He was already growing soybeans before he had ever heard of gebana.
Kondja Kocou used to sell his soybeans to Sojagnon. But he says he was never really happy with the organisation. For example, Sojagnon weighed his harvest when he wasn't there and only paid him three months later. He never really had a chance to verify the amounts.
Kondja Kocou heard about gebana during one of our awareness campaigns in his region. What he heard there got his attention. He especially liked that the harvest is purchased in cash, he tells us.
In his first season selling to us, he delivered 900 kg of soybeans and earned CFA 166,500. In the second season, he doubled his farming area for soy to 2 ha, delivered 1,762 kg of beans and received CFA 352,400. Kondja Kocou invested the money in his house. He plastered the walls and replaced parts of the roof. Next season, he plans on growing at least 2 ha of organic soybeans.
He pays his children's school fees using the organic premium he receives for his harvest.