Interview with Nicholas Kombat, head of the Anoshe Women Group in Chereponi, Ghana, on sustainable agriculture and the development of the project
From its beginnings in 2011 Nicholas has been the head of the Anoshe Women Group, a group of 150 women trying to generate income by growing soybeans. When we, my husband and I, first met Nicholas, the group was in need of tractor services and seeds. Seeing these women struggle but fight for a better life, it was clear to us that we would support them. Sabab Lou established a loan fund to be used for ploughing and seeds, but also to invest in a livestock of sheep and pigs. Together we are moving forward towards sustainable agriculture. The past three years have been very successful. The group could be extended to 450 women, owns 2 tractors and is strong enough to even compensate backlashes like the poor harvest in 2013. We met Nicolas for an interview in Chereponi on October 7, 2014.
SL: What was your intention when you first started the Anoshe Group?
ÑK: Myself, I had supporting parents and a good education and I feel very grateful for the opportunities I was given. Also my Christian religion developed a moral value system, making me see the responsibility I have for the ones being marginalised and underprivileged in society. Being myself also financially privileged, I wanted to help the women lift their income level and thus their status.
SL: Did your initial intention change over the past three years?
ÑK: The objectives remain the same but the achievements were higher than expected and I was faced with an enormous demand for support. Starting with 150 women the project had to adapt to 450 women today.
SL:Which were the biggest challenges?
ÑA:The first challenge was to get the initial support from the husbands. Also I had to coordinate tractor services in due time against increasing demand from the women. Apart, trading support was a challenging experience. With the growth of the project I had to develop a monitoring structure and accounting system to measure input and results, so to always be aware of the benefit for the women. The draught of last year was a big challenge on sustainability of the project.
SL:What was the biggest boost to the project?
ÑA:The cooperation with Sabab Lou was and is the biggest boost to the project. Not only through the financial input which made progress possible, but also through the constant support of knowledge transfer and training. The assistance of Sabab Lou had the biggest impact on progress, efficiency and motivation of the group and the women.
SL:What did you personally gain from the project?
ÑA:First of all I gained a lot of expertise which makes me by now an experienced development officer. As a result I have become a stakeholder not only in my community but in the whole district. Even the district coordinating director calls me for advice, and I am asked for mediation on important social and political matters. And last but not least my position somewhat personally protects me, it is a kind of social security. Further it should be mentioned that the project is a small additional source of income to cushion me.