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Dizengoff Ghana seeks to meet the needs of small-scale farmers in Sierra Leone

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Dizengoff Ghana seeks to meet the needs of small-scale farmers in Sierra Leone

By Shira Aliza

Approximate reading time: 4 minutes.

Around 7.7 million people live in Sierra Leone today – slightly more than the population of Washington State. But while Sierra Leone’s entire GDP stood at 4 billion USD in 2017, Washington State’s GDP from agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting alone exceeded 7 billion USD in that same year. Since almost 60% of Sierra Leone’s GDP comes from the agriculture sector, increasing agricultural productivity would significantly boost the whole Sierra Leonean economy.

One of the obstacles facing farmers in Sierra Leone is the lack of appropriate tools. Currently, the country’s agriculture sector consists mostly of small-scale farms operating at a near-subsistence level. Dizengoff Ghana’s mission is to provide farmers with the tools and training they need to do one of the most important jobs in the world – feeding people. This leading international company has been active in Ghana for the past 62 years, managing transactions ranging in size from large turnkey projects to single cans of merchandise.

The company’s agriculture division offers a variety of products and services within the following categories: seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides; farm machinery and mechanization tools; irrigation systems (drip, sprinkler and center pivot); and Dizengoff-Ghana’s flagship product, the “Dizengoff Farming Kits,” that offer farmers a one-stop-solution to setting up and operating small to large scale greenhouses adapted to the farmers’ needs and the local soil and climate conditions.

The company’s capacity to meet the needs of both large industrial operations and individual farmers makes its services particularly appropriate to the expansion of Sierra Leone’s food production capabilities. Dizengoff Ghana can provide Sierra Leone’s small-scale farmers with the tools and products needed to cultivate their land more efficiently and effectively. And as these farmers increase their yields and grow their operations, Dizengoff Ghana can draw on its expertise servicing larger clients to accompany the farmers as they move towards bigger harvests, guaranteeing food security for Sierra Leoneans and strengthening the country’s economy by exporting the surplus.

Dizengoff Ghana’s General Manager Waldo Boshoff and Irrigation and Greenhouse Manager Samuel Abbey’s first ever visit to Sierra Leone took place during the Empower Africa Agriculture Trade Mission. Waldo and Samuel joined the Trade Mission delegation with the goal of understanding the specific needs of the Sierra Leone farmers to ascertain how Dizengoff Ghana can contribute to improving their agricultural yields and boosting Sierra Leone’s agriculture sector.

As Waldo says:

“If you do what you did, you are going to get what you got. Farmers are doing a great service to the people of Sierra Leone. However, in order to improve the harvest yields and develop the agriculture sector in Sierra Leone, the farmers cannot keep doing what they have done until now. We came on this Trade Mission without much knowledge of Sierra Leone and its agricultural needs, and we observed several concrete ways in which we can help the farming community in Sierra Leone cultivate its land in a much more efficient manner. For example, we noticed the lack of small harvesting and seeding tools that could be used by individual, non-industrial farmers, and we were introduced to potential business partners with whom we can work to bring these tools to Sierra Leone. We are moving forward on some of the projects initiated during the Trade Mission, and we are already planning our next trip to Sierra Leone.

Empower Africa was instrumental in bringing us into the commercial and agricultural reality of Sierra Leone. The Trade Mission connected us with important local partners who will be vital to our success in the country. The field day and the visit to Sunbird Bioenergy was eye opening in terms of appreciating what can be done in Sierra Leone. The post-Trade Mission follow-up with Empower Africa has also been extremely helpful and consistent. We believe that Ezi and his team are in Sierra Leone to make a difference, and we are very excited to see where this partnership goes.”

Providing smaller farmers with the equipment needed to increase productivity and profitability is the one of many steps on the road towards a modern agriculture sector in Sierra Leone – an agriculture sector that can feed the population and serve as an engine for economic growth. If you would like to learn more about getting involved in agriculture in Sierra Leone, contact Empower Africa’s Director of Agriculture Maoz Aviv at maoz@empowerafrica.com.

Register now for early access to the Empower Africa Business Network.

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Growing Smart and Empower Africa to collaborate on a new Agri Training Center in Sierra Leone​

Growing Smart speaks at Empower Africa's Trade Mission

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Growing Smart and Empower Africa to collaborate on a new Agri Training Center in Sierra Leone

Growing SmartGrowing Smart is an international agribusiness focussing on holistic agriculture solutions, farming education, and turnkey projects. The company’s mission is to empower rural communities by developing farmers’ skills and working with the area’s geography and natural resources.

Growing Smart also uses a wide range of technologies, including aerial imagery and field mapping, to provide GIS-based data which gives farmers the insights needed to make critical decisions regarding land planning, land management, and the allocation of limited resources.

As part of their mission to educate farmers, Growing Smart has established a Practical Agriculture College in Ghana. The college teaches agricultural production through a multi-disciplinary approach. The College’s unique curriculum draws on the latest scientific research as well as traditional local knowledge to give farmers the information and tools needed to derive the most value from their land.

The faculty at the Practical Agriculture College is trained in teaching farmers coming from diverse educational backgrounds – many of whom are illiterate – to apply the latest technologies and cutting edge research results so that they can cultivate their fields in the most efficient and effective ways.

At the Empower Africa Trade Mission Conference, Roy Peleg, Growing Smart’s CEO, presented Growing Smart and his Practical Agriculture College to an audience of approximately 150 government and business leaders.

Growing Smart speaks at Empower Africa's Trade Mission
Roy Peleg speaks on stage during the Empower Africa Agriculture Trade Mission conference

The following day, during the visit to Sunbird Bioenergy, a sugarcane growing and processing operation, Roy discussed best practices for growing and protecting the sugarcane throughout the crop’s lifecycle. Sunbird’s CEO and staff were able to benefit from Roy’s insights accumulated over his 25 years of experience in the field.

Growing Smart visits Sunbird's processing plant
Roy Peleg (left) discusses agriculture and technology with Sunbird's CEO Senthil Nalliah (right) on a visit to Sunbird's processing plant

On the last day of the Trade Mission, Empower Africa’s Director of Agriculture Maoz Aviv presented Empower Africa’s vision for an Agricultural Research and Training Center in Sierra Leone. The Center will be modelled after Growing Smart’s Practical Agriculture College in Ghana, and will teach farmers to use the latest technologies and information to improve their crop yields at every stage – from growing to plant protection to post-harvest care.

Maoz Aviv, Empower Africa’s Director of Agriculture, stated: “We were pleased to have Roy Peleg, Founder and C.E.O. of Growing Smart, join us on our Trade Mission Delegation. Roy brought with him invaluable knowledge in almost every aspect of the agricultural production process. Growing Smart’s experience in farming education within rural communities will help the Agricultural Research and Training Center educate the next generation of Sierra Leone’s farmers to maximise the potential of this great country.”

Roy Peleg chat with CEO of Dole Sierra Leone, and Charles Anglin, Consultant at the NIB Transitional Secretariat
(Left to Right) Roy Peleg and Maoz Aviv chat with Peter Blake, CEO of Dole Sierra Leone, and Charles Anglin, Consultant at the NIB Transitional Secretariat

Empower Africa and Growing Smart are planning to combine expertise to establish an AG Training Center in Sierra Leone that will teach farmers to use the latest technologies and information to improve their crop yields at every stage – from growing to plant protection to post-harvest care.

If you are interested in taking part in this exciting project, please contact Empower Africa’s
Director of Agriculture Maoz Aviv at maoz@empowerafrica.com.

Register now for early access to the empower africa business network.