His smiles beamed for hours when his name was mentioned as the winner for the Best Non-Traditional Farmer for the Fanteakwa North District of the Eastern Region.
As last, an opportunity, nursed through hardwork and conscious effort, has borne fruits – literally.
Rev. Fr. Derrick Eyram Senanu, Priest-in-Charge at St. Theresa Catholic Church, Begoro, two years on after his repostment, was convinced a mushroom farm was a viable opportunity in an agriculture community.
His desire to venture into new areas saw him add snail and quail farming to the mushroom farming on a four-plot land.
It became his second love after his original call as a Catholic Priest.
Our Eastern Region correspondent, Yvonne Neequaye, sought to find out more on how he began the farms.
In a reflective mood, he explained, ”We started with the putting up of a structure for mushroom farm in December 2019.
“After two months, we decided to expand and employ people to run the farm so we could produce more. So from buying inoculated bags from other farmers to crop and sell the mushrooms, we got people trained so we can produce our own spawns and inoculated bags on our own.
“Later, we added rabbit farming, quail farming and snail farming to the farm. Currently we have two farm managers, two farm hands and two others we hire on contract if we need more work done and we do not have the means.”
He continued, “The farm is named Emmanuel-Grace Agricultural Institute after my Dad and Mum. It is registered as an NGO. Our hope is to expand and get more people employed and trained. It’s been a long journey from last December. A lot of hard work and sacrifice. A lot of learning on the job and visiting other farms to learn from their experiences and mistakes.”
Asked if the farm was challenged in the peak of the Covid-19, he said the impact was rather a positive one with mixed emotions. The congregation could no longer be served.
“That was the time we spent more days working since there was official break from all public gathering.”
Lots of his customers have been residents in the Begoro township and its environs, Koforidua and Accra.
He was grateful to God and expressed his deepest appreciation to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Fanteakwa North District who allowed officials to the farm occasionally to ensure smooth running of things.
The feeling of winning an award in a non-traditional farming category is an icing for all the hardwork.
“We received the award for Best Non-Traditional Farmer of the Year Category. While we never dreamt of this award, it has given us the zeal to do more for our community and the nation at large.”
He is a Catholic Priest, author of ‘The Sun and Midnight’, ‘The Young Ancestor’ and co-author of ‘The Sorrowful Laughter’ and now a non traditional farmer.
He was thankful to his colleague priests for the encouragement and inspiration, friends who had supported him financially and his farm hands who have committed much efforts into helping the farm grow.
“I owe a debt to those who inspired me with words and deeds to get this far. V. Rev. Fr. Bright Kennedy Agyepong,
Rev. Fr. Courage Senam Dogbey and Rev. Fr Prosper Edward MENSAH and Benjamin Kwame Asante ( Director, Petroleum Upstream – Ministry of Energy).
”Going forward, we are committed to doing more by training others and helping them set up their own farms. Though we have helped some people already, we hope to do more with the necessary support.”