Posted by: mhirdyounger | March 22, 2013

A Role Model Agricultural Entrepreneur

Me: “What personal characteristic enables you to be such a successful entrepreneur?”

Mr. Sumani: “I dream big.”

Mr. Sumani, CEO of Bunyanso Farms Ltd., Damongo, explains his business model to agricultural college students in front of his cashew warehouse.

Mr. Sumani, CEO of Bunyanso Farms Ltd., Damongo, explains his business model to agricultural college students in front of his cashew warehouse.

Today is the story of one agricultural entrepreneur and his impact on a handful of agricultural college students. I’m at Damongo Agricultural College this week for the Agricultural Colleges Student Union Games and Exhibition. On Monday EWB helped to host Ghana’s inaugural National Agribusiness Competition (more to come on this) and Mr. Iddrisu Sumani came as a judge of the competition. He then invited EWB representatives to bring a handful of students to tour his plantation and learn about his own journey as an entrepreneur in Ghana’s agricultural sector.

Mr. Sumani and Bunyanso Farms, Ltd.

Mr. Sumani finished high school and said to himself, “No, I will not wait for things to come to me, I will seek out the impact I want to have”. He pursued a one-year agricultural training programme, Leventis Foundation Farmers Training Programme, at the University of Ghana. He came back to his home town to found Bunyanso Farms, Ltd.

Fast-forward many years, and he is now the successful CEO of the important plantation that Bunyanso has become in Damongo. They produce cashew, moringa and shea. They bulk purchase cashew from other local farmers and they also offer agro-inputs. He has been recognized for his success with an award as District Best Farmer and an appointment as Secretary of the District Value Chains Committee (part of the Northern Rural Growth Project).

But these successes are not the main things what stands out in my mind to make Mr. Sumani a role model for agricultural students. There are two things that, in my opinion, are the reasons why his influence on students is so important:

  1. His emphasis on social impact. On our visit to his plantation, he emphasized time and time again that he is not working for the economic gain, but for the social impact. Alongside his income generating activities, he offers social services. His business has a strong extension component in training farmers on farmer group strengthening, business plan preparation and the production of moringa, shea and cashew.  He ensures that farmers understand the best practices in cashew production to meet international standards. He believes strongly in the impact that he can have in his community.
Bunyanso Farms Ltd. also offers training to farmers on farmer groups, business plans and high quality moringa, cashew and shea production. Mr. Sumani here is showing a manual that they have developed.

Bunyanso Farms Ltd. also offers training to farmers on group strengthening, business plans and high quality moringa, cashew and shea production. Mr. Sumani here is showing a manual that they have developed.

  • 2. He is innovative. It was amazing to see how excited Mr. Sumani was by the students’ projects in the Agribusiness Competition on Monday. The more innovative the ideas, the more interested he was. When we arrived at his farm, we understood why – his farm is full of leading edge approaches to agriculture, some of which he has developed himself. He is always looking for ways to improve production, social impact and other benefits on his plantation.
Mr. Sumani has grown sisal hemp as a 'live fence' around his farm to protect the trees from fire, thieves and demarcate his border. This is just one of the innovations that this dedicated agribusinessman has adopted on his farm.

Mr. Sumani has grown sisal hemp as a ‘live fence’ around his plantation to protect the trees from fire, thieves and to demarcate his border. This is just one of the innovations that this dedicated agribusinessman has adopted on his farm.

EWB’s Investment in Agricultural Colleges

EWB is continuing to work in Ghana’s Agricultural Colleges, investing in the innovation potential of the extension education being provided. This small field trip to Bunyanso Farms was a great example of the type of learning opportunities we want to promote. We want students to be exposed to innovative, passionate socio-agricultural entrepreneurs. We want students to have the opportunity to practically learn about innovations in agriculture and experience the mindsets and attitudes that are required to develop them. 

Students learning about varieties of cashew

EWB wants students to have the opportunity to learn in the field from successful socio-agricultural entrepreneurs like Mr. Sumani.

The trip ended with Mr.Sumani discussing with a few students how they could collaborate to expand the students’ business project from Monday’s competition into a viable business opportunity that could have social impacts. These are the types of connections, experiences, learning opportunities and innovations that EWB wants to promote at Ghana’s agricultural colleges. These are the learning opportunities that will enable students to become dynamic, innovative and creative extension agents, working in public and private sectors.

Students thinking about 'Agriculture As A Business'

Students thinking about ‘Agriculture As A Business’

This story, Mr. Sumani’s story and the story of his collaboration with agricultural students, is most definitely an unfinished story. His dreams keep growing even as his business grows and I have no doubt that his inspiration has helped a few students’ dreams grow a little bigger today too.

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