Ghana Loan Beneficiaries Make Remarkable Progress

Recently, Father Byrum and David Doherty traveled to Ghana to visit the sites of the four remaining loan projects. The projects include a loan for fishing boats in Akrusu Saisi, a loan to an historic rice farming community in Dawhenyah to upgrade farming mechanization, a loan to open a palm oil factory in Odobeng and a loan to a group of local palm fruit farmers also in odobeng.

Fishing Boat Loans at Akrusu Saisi. – Father Byrum and David were able to travel to Lake Volta to share in the joy of turning over the deed of the first two boats to the fishermen because the first loan was paid in full. The first loan ($10+K) enabled four fishermen to have the equipment they needed to go out and fish. Over 150 people directly benefit from this loan. The boats, motors and equipment are now owned by the fishermen, enabling them to earn a profitable income. There is a trickle down effect from the work of the fishermen, like the benefits to the fish mongers who can now provide for their families too. Fr. Byrum acknowledged that it was a joyous day to see the loans paid off after two and a half years. The second loan, for two more boats was made a year after the initial loan. During the “deed ceremony”, Isaiah admonished the current loan beneficiaries to keep up their payments on their loan so that they too could derive all the benefits. Fr. B was very pleased to know that all maintenance on the boats, motors and nets was being maintained and therefore the equipment was working well.

Rice project at Dawhenyah - One of the iF Foundation’s largest loans was made three years ago to revitalize an historic rice farming village. The rice farmers at Dawhenyah had been put out of business by an inability to offset the high cost of electric power needed to drive the pumping station because of the antiquated pumping equipment. Because of the economic drain for the cost of electricity, and the failure to maintain the power pumping plant, the area faltered and farmers had to find an alternative means of income. Nene, the local tribal chief and president of the Dawhenyah Rice Association, met with Fr. Byrum and David, thanking them for the iF Foundation’s initial loan enabling them to go back to rice farming. Our smaller modern pumps secured in the loan, enabled the farmers to resume farming on a small but profitable scale. They also bought a couple of tilling machines and a large harvester to give them the heavy equipment they needed to accomplish their task in a more efficient way, enabling better production results.

Our initial loan repayment schedule stalled, when after just one yield, the government of Ghana and the government of S. Korea entered into an agreement whereby the S. Koreans would shut down and work on the large reservoir to dredge and upgrade it to enable a larger vision of rice growing in Dawhenyah. After seeing the rice project shut down for over two years, an agreement was recently reached to resume planting at Dawhenyah . The pumping station will be revitalized with modern and more efficient pumping equipment, thereby mitigating the heavy drain of electric consumption that made rice farming unprofitable in the past. Nene hopes that rice planting will resume in August and that loan payments will begin after the first harvest.

Palm Oil Factory at Odobeng – After two years of waiting to get the factory on line, working around two site selections that were rejected by the inspectors, and a long construction process on the third site; the palm oil factory is now opened for business in the central region of Ghana. Palm trees are the major crop grown in the central region and having their own processing factory will encourage the farmers to put more effort into their farms, growing economic prosperity. While there, Fr. B and David participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony and blessing of the factory, workers and community. The farmers in the area are grateful to finally have a place to bring their palm fruits for processing. There are four tribes who are a part of this contract. This is our largest loan, which will revitalize the economic opportunity in Odobeng. Once the loan for the factory is paid in full, the profits will be used by the 4 tribes to improve community life (schools, public toilet facilities, a community tractor, etc.)

Palm plantation – The iF Foundation provided $16K to a palm plantation farmers association located next to the palm oil factory, so that the owners can have a short distance to go to harvest their fruits. This also of course provides the factory with a small part of their needs to keep the plant running as close to capacity as possible. Palm trees take three years before they bear fruit. In Odobeng, the farmers are a year away from seeing the trees mature. Once the fruit is harvested and processed, the farmers will be able to pay back their loan. The farmers planted about 1,200 trees and have lost only 30. The planting was supervised by government agronomists who gave the farmers technical support in terms of spacing of the trees, fertilization, etc.