East West Seeds-Knowledge Transfer Expansion into Ghana
After months of preparation East West Seed - Knowledge Transfer Foundation is now an officially registered organization in Ghana. Our team reached out to EWS-KT to have a chat about this as well gain some insights to share with our readers.
Why are Nigeria and Ghana considered important for East-West Seeds?
Both countries are highlighted in the East-West Seed (EWS) 5-year strategic plan as top-priority countries to establish our African footprint. Our 2021-2026 strategy was developed after a thorough market mapping of the African landscape, which we conducted with the help of Larive International, a Dutch-based consultancy firm specializing in emerging markets entry strategies. Apart from Nigeria and Ghana, we identified significant opportunities in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon. For Ghana and Nigeria specifically, our product portfolio and R&D capabilities were mapped against the market preferences, and we carefully considered other factors such as market potential and cultural fit.
At East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT), our strategy is to showcase profitable and sustainable farming practices to smallholder vegetable farmers struggling with poor yields in less developed markets. We provide intensive, hands-on training in improved farming techniques to farmers in their own fields, and these plots are used to train other farmers and to demonstrate the potential of good production methods and quality inputs.
Currently, Nigeria is the flagship country in West Africa for both EWS and EWS-KT. Especially in Kano and Kaduna states, the impact of EWS-KT is clearly visible: we see a sustainable uptake of good farming practices, resulting in profitable yields for smallholder farmers.
However, Nigeria continues to have a vegetable supply deficit, as does Ghana; there is a need for further capacity building and good-quality seeds to position farming as a profitable and attractive livelihood. Currently, 95% of the seeds used in Nigeria are of poor quality; they are highly prone to diseases and offer low-quality produce and low yield. Likewise, most farmers in the country are using traditional farming methods that limit their crop output. This clearly shows how big the potential of the sector is, and how much work we still have in front of us!
In Kano and Kaduna states, the impact of EWS-KT is clearly visible: we see a sustainable uptake of good farming practices, resulting in profitable yields for smallholder farmers.
What has worked so far in Nigeria?
To best serve farmers, EWS-KT recruits and trains skilled staff who are from the local area and are willing to deeply engage with the farmers to understand their challenges. Listening to the farmers allows us to adapt our approaches and techniques to what is needed, resulting in sustainable results.
As farmers recognize the benefits of quality seed and other farm inputs alongside the use of improved production practices, an environment is catalyzed in which East-West Seed and other private companies can be more effective in growing new markets. This approach enables systemic changes to markets and ensures continual access to knowledge and innovative farm inputs for farmers. It also sustainably raises farmers’ income and improves community nutrition through year-round availability of affordable, safe-to-eat vegetables.
For farmers to succeed, they need high-quality seeds that suit the local climate and the local market preferences. With more than 200 million inhabitants and a healthy vegetable consumption per capita, Nigeria offers significant opportunities for seed companies to increase the yield and the quality of the seeds produced. The average Nigerian tomato farmer works on a half-hectare field and yields about 5-7 metric tons of tomatoes per hectare. On our Nigerian EWS model farms where we grow tomatoes with our own experienced teams, that yield can reach as much as 35-45 metric tons per hectare; even our typical customers in Nigeria who have little access to resources such as fertilizers, crop protection, and irrigation are able to increase their yield to 15-20 metric tons when using our varieties and improved production practices. This is a huge step up from the traditional yields and really makes a difference in the budget of the Nigerian farmer.
Are there any challenges you foresee as you get onto the Ghanaian market?
The most dominant concern is the devaluation of the currency; the Ghana cedi has lost significant value against the USD in recent years. As the cedi continues to lose value, our seeds will become more expensive to the farmers of Ghana, which will slow the adoption of commercial seed over farmer-saved seed. On the other hand, Ghanaian farmers are highly adaptive to new techniques and are keen to learn and improve. Like the Ghana cedi, the Nigerian naira has lost significant value over the last 2 years, yet our business has doubled year on year, which is a clear indicator that once the market understands the value of our products, the price only plays a secondary role.
We are happy with the step taken by East West Seeds - Knowledge Transfer and wish them more success stories in Ghana.
You can read more on the EWS-KT story here