Access to safe and nutritious food can be challenging for many Ghanaian youth, especially those living in the care of an orphanage. According to statistics collected by UNICEF from 2008-2012, 13.4% of children are moderately to severely underweight, 6.2% are ‘wasting’ in regards to weight and height, and 22.7% have their growth stunted all due to lack of access to adequate nutrition. There are approximately 11,423,500 people under the age of 18 living in Ghana. As indicated by these statistics, approximately 1,530,749 individuals under 18 are moderately to severely underweight.
This information leads us to discuss BFG’s latest endeavor – to provide healthy, locally grown food to youth in need living in orphanages. As you may or may not know, BFG is currently becoming involved in the agricultural business by growing crops of cocoa, cassava root, plantains, beans and corn. Not only does this promote job opportunities for local Ghanaians, but it is also an environmentally sustainable and green way to provide access to locally grown and nutritious food. This food will be distributed to orphanages that meet the criteria for the BFG: The Green Project program.
Project Report – June 2016
The pilot project for The Green Project began in February 2015. At this time, BFG purchased 2 acres of farmland and has since implemented the seeding and cultivation phases of agricultural production. Corn, cassava, plantain and cocoa where inter-planted as a mixed-farm, as these crops are all staple food sources in Ghana and can be grown easily.
The Growth and Cultivation Processes
Corn has a life span of 3 months, while cassava, plantains and cocoa have life spans of 1 year, 4 years and 25 years, respectively. We chose to utilize the mixed-farm approach, as these crops are able to benefit from each other. For example, the corn, cassava and plantain trees provide shade for the cocoa trees allowing them to flourish and protect them over time.
During the pilot project, the first batch of corn was harvested after 4 months allowing for quick return of product leading to quick distribution to children in need. Corn can be grown and harvested twice in a 12-month period. The cassava was harvested after 1 year of growth and was distributed in June 2016.
The plantain and cocoa trees continue to undergo the growth process and await cultivation. These are considered to be a long-term investment that will provide nutrition and added revenue over time.
How was the Produce Used?
50% of the produce was donated to 5 orphanages whiles the other 50% was sold to consumers in order to generate further funds for sustainable farm maintenance. 5 orphanages with a cumulative total of approximately 250 children have been provided with produce from the farm on a bi-monthly basis. Each delivery provides food for 1 – 2 weeks. As the farm continues to grow and expand,BFG will be able to produce more corn and cassava to feed the children in the orphanages for longer periods of time.
Employment on the Farm Following organic guidelines
BFG does not use harmful pesticides or other chemicals on the crops that can be damaging to plants and humans. Since the beginning of this project, we have been able to provide employment for a number of young adults from Bobikuma that are involved throughout the process from planting to harvesting. Our biggest goal is to achieve equilibrium where the farm is able to provide adequate produce to feed many children in need, and ultimately pay for itself in a sustainable manner.