YouthMappers: Student Experiences With Processors On Site in Kumasi

This blog was written by Kwame Odame, Gladys Adjei and Kingsley Kanji, students from the University of Cape Coast chapter of YouthMappers. The Soy Innovation Lab (SIL) has collaborated with YouthMappers on a student project to generate geographical information systems (GIS) data on the spatial configuration of key installations within the soybean value chain in and around Kumasi, Ghana. This blog post originally appeared on the SIL's Notes from the Field blog on 23 August 2018.

 

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After a series of interactions with Dr. Peter Goldsmith and other resource persons from the USAID and the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), we were poised to get out into the field to experience the reality of the managers of soybean processing companies, poultry farms and meal manufactures. With an already prepared set of questions and an observation checklist, we began the field trip on Friday, 3th August, 2018 and ended in Wednesday, August 8, 2018.

 

 

Our local contact person was the resource person from the Catholic Resource Services (CRS) since they have a vast experience through previous engagement with these processing agents. For us, this field exercise was quite exciting since it was the first time some of us had to travel and explore the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Region. Under the supervision of our faculty advisor (Mr James Eshun) the team had to set off around 6 am since our first respondent was far from our residence. This respondent was the manager of a processing company name Agricare. While approaching the company, we had the rare opportunity to witness daily activities of the residents of Kumasi which was quite different from Cape Coast.

 

While admiring, numerous photographs we were taken to augment our photo gallery on soybean processing we were also focus on the object of the field work. Aside admiring Kumasi, we also took time to revise the set of questions we had prepared and knowing that none of us had any farming or soy processing background, we were so eager to ascertain the reality of our respondent operations. The team was also eager to try the KOBO tool box and see how it truly works in the field.

 

 

On route to meet our first respondent at his processing plant, he rather asked the team to meet him at his hotel which was closer to our residence.

On reaching the said hotel, we again reminded ourselves of the task to be undertaken by each member which ranged from the secretary, video/audio recorder, interviewer and KOBO entry personnel. These were necessary since it afforded each member to activity participate in the data collection exercise. Having set two key hypotheses, we started off by allowing the respondents to give us a brief descriptive about their operations and after this, we followed up with the string of questions we had already prepared.

 

The submissions of our respondent were quite interesting. For an agricultural based country like Ghana, we were surprised to observe the frustrations of our first respondents as he tries to acquire soybean from the local farmers, transport his produce and market them. It must be noted that, all respondents were quite certain and motivated by the commercial value of soybeans but were also disappointed at the extent to which local farmers were growing these soybeans. Though this interview went smoothly for us, the same cannot be said about reception we received from other processing companies. One particular processing company in Kumasi did not even allow our vehicle into their yard since our request for the visit had not been granted by its board. The team only manage to pick the GPS coordinates and continue to other responds. It was quite disappointing since this company was one of the biggest we had seen in Kumasi.

 

 

After visiting all the processing plants in Kumasi, we decided to expand our scope by covering some other plants in the Brong Ahafo regions. This required a 3-hour drive to the first processing company in Sunyani.

 

Aside requesting for an interview, the team was amazed at the extent to which these managers were willing to take us on a tour to various sections of their company. At Vestor Oil, the managers insisted on nose masks for each participant and took us to all sections ranging from the storage facility, soy crashing sites, bagging section and oil refinery. 

 

This field work has given the team an insight to a gap in the agricultural sector which could not have been known. We have further made acquittances with processors and managers from different processors in Kumasi and Sunyani. The support from the Prof. Peter Goldsmith, CSR and USAID has been enormous, and we say thank you.  

 

Images:

Top: The team with our first respondent (Manager of CropCare) at his hotel

Second: The team at the crushing and bagging section of Vestor Oil

Third: The team in the storage facility of Agricare Company

Bottom: The team in the storage facility of Vestor Oil

 

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This blog was written by Kwame Odame, Gladys Adjei and Kingsley Kanji, students from the University of Cape Coast chapter of YouthMappers. The Soy Innovation Lab (SIL) has collaborated with YouthMappers on a student project to generate geographical information systems (GIS) data on the spatial configuration of key installations within the soybean value chain in and around Kumasi, Ghana. This blog post originally appeared on the SIL's Notes from the Field blog on 23 August 2018.

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