A 39-year old Ghanaian farmer has broken a record by becoming the first indigenous commercial farmer with over 425 hectares of farmland in a single location in the country’s northern savannah ecological zone.

Isaac Papanko, CEO of Idan Agro Ventures Papanko, started off farming maize on 8 hectares and largely credits his success to training provided by the African Development Bank’s Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP).

“We the youth, under SAPIP TAAT-S program, will soon be counting money in dollars that will blow the minds of Ghanaians,” says  Papanko, when asked where he sees his business in the next few years.

Through the SAPIP project, Papanko received technical support, land development support, financing for inputs and has now expanded to soybean production. Under the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation Savannah (TAAT-S), he also received access to improved seeds and fertilizer and has increased the use of technology in his work. He owns tractors, planters, boom sprayers, corn shellers and a combine harvester to accelerate production and harvest activities. He supplies his produce to processing plants such as Premium Foods and Ghana Agro Food Co. in Tema.

Soybean farms of the Savannah in Ghana

Since 2017, the Ghana Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) has focused on building sustainable agricultural food value chains, ensuring food and nutrition security in the savannah regions, and contributing to the improvement of overall economic wealth in Ghana, through agribusiness and agricultural productivity and diversification.

Designed within the context of the government’s national Shared Growth and Development Agenda, the program is guided by Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy, and supports other government initiatives in the sector, including the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign, the One Village One Dam and One District, One Factory program. The project also leverages support from the Bank’s TAAT-S program and is linked to the Ghana Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending.

Following its inception, SAPIP held demonstrations for farmers on conservation in maize and soybean production. Source: African Development Bank