I currently have the privilege of being in Ghana (A country along the West African coast) to help out many different people, all with agriculture! I heard about this internship through a friend of mine who called me up. In order for her to even have her resume looked at, she needed another girl to come. It’s either two men or two women. We were told that it would be an animal science internship (I’m a double major in animal science and agronomy), and she said I should talk to Dr. McGary if I was interested. Since I’m “off-track” during the winter semester, I thought I’d get more information. After talking to Dr. McGary and getting the very basics from him, I felt that I should go!
We were told that it’s harder for women to get accepted into the internship, but Nicole and I tried anyways. We finally heard back that we were accepted, and then had to get everything in order to go! After much time, money, and patience, I was able to get all my immunizations, passport, visa, and “ducks in a row” to come.
I’m thankful that I have switched my major numerous times (though it all was in agriculture). We use agri-business, animal science, agronomy, and agriculture education out here every day to teach those we interact with. Not only am I able to help out many different people, but they too, have shown me many life lessons and experiences.
Take, for example, the three college students who have just enrolled in our agri-business program here at Golden Sunbeam International College of Science and Technology in a little village of Ayikuma, Ghana. These three students are from the country to the north of us, Burkina Faso. They are three different people who have been adopted by an LDS man. This man helps out his community by letting people onto his farm to grow their own crops for consumption.
He sent three of his brightest children (out of the 52 that he adopted) to our school. They are to learn about agri-business entrepreneurship, how to successfully make an aquaponics system to raise fish and crops in one sustainable system, and know every piece of machinery and steps to create their own soy milk to provide more protein in their community’s diet. These three students have their community counting on them!
Here at the college/ farm, we have the only large scale aquaponics system in Ghana. We also have the SoyCow (different machines used to turn soybeans from our field into soymilk) that is able to help increase protein and other nutrients in our student’s diet. These are two very beneficial agricultural systems in this part of the world, as both these systems can help a person or community become self-sufficient in their food production. This means they spend less money on food when bought on the side of the road. They don’t have to be a victim of the relentless fluctuating prices that the government always inflicts.
Being here, I see firsthand the way that these people live. I see at least one child a week with kwashiorkor (bloated stomachs due to protein malnutrition after weaning from the mother). This is because the diets out here are high in starches (like the cassava tuber crop) and low in protein. To grow our own soybeans, have the two different machines (grinder and pressure cooker), and have a supplier nearby that sells plastic bottles and caps are all big blessings to this community.
As I am an intern and am working for free, the soybeans are grown from our fields, the machines were donated, and so the only costs are electricity and the bottles. With this, we are to sell one 250 ml bottle for 1 Ghana Cedi, that’s equivalent to 0.33 American dollars.
Not only do the college students here at the farm buy our product to increase protein intake in their diet, but we also have our school students doing the same. In Adenta (a town about an hour away), we also run a school from the ages of pre-school to senior high school. Golden Sunbeam International School sells the soymilk for a cheaper price than the other two producers in this area. We have students who buy it for part of their snack each day, as well as their parents who buy it to take home to their families. We are now working with another school to sell them soymilk, so their students can have an increase in protein as well.
Each Wednesday, I am able to go into Adenta to teach high school aged students about agriculture. Agric, as they call it here, is a very important way of life. Most families grow their own crops for their meals. When there is a surplus, they sell it on the side of the road. We are teaching our students “basic” agronomy principles that they do not know about in this part of the world. Crop rotation and soil conservation are two of the biggest topics that we cover in their curriculum.
Not only do I get to help with the college curriculum and the school curriculum, but I also get to help educate the farm managers on livestock and crop production. Crop rotation, pest/ disease management, and good animal husbandry are the three main factors that I focus on to help increase yields. All of the food and meat grown here are for the student’s consumption at the school and college. We try to be 100% self-sufficient to keep the tuition rates down and to reduce relying on the government’s fluctuation prices and embargos on different items… the most current embargo is on broiler (meat producing) chickens, making the poultry price sky-rocket higher than it already was…
I’m grateful for the opportunity to teach these people about different aspects of agriculture: agri-business, animal science, and agronomy. Showing the wonderful people of Ghana how to become more self-reliant and increase their nutrition has proven to be a ripple effect, spreading to their friends and family. I hope to return to Ghana and see many more people being self-reliant and providing more efficient ways of growing crops, fish, and producing milk for their family’s consumption. Just as the old saying goes, I may not change the whole world, but I’m seeing it change a few people’s worlds!