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YouthMappers: Putting Together the Soybean Value Chain Puzzle

This blog was written by Faustina Lina Yebooah, Anthony Acquah and Daniel Osei, students from the University of Cape Coast chapter of YouthMappers. YouthMappers is a consortium of university chapters dedicated to the use of GIS data to better understand issues in regions of extreme poverty where USAID works. SIL has collaborated with YouthMappers on a student project to generate geographical information systems (GIS) data on the spatial configuration of key installations within the soybean value chain in and around Kumasi, Ghana. 

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The past two weeks have been a real eye opener for us. In retrospect, it is amazing that we moved from knowing next to nothing about soybean and its processing to being pummeled with tons of information and being introduced to first hand experiences about the livelihoods of poultry farmers and processors. More so that we can do this in our own country - Ghana!

The team developed a semi-structured interview by coming up with hypotheses in relation to the soybean value chain. The first hypothesis was that processors do not set prices of soybean, and the second was that Kumasi is a good location to place a soybean processing plant, also known (we would learn) as a crush. The focus group discussion used in coming up with these questions helped us understand the essence of group work where everyone shares an idea towards a particular goal.

Meeting farmers and processors was another great encounter, and the warm welcome of most of them was great. It was amazing listening to the responses from poultry farmers and processors alike. Once we were in the field, we realized that despite our education on the soybean industry, a great deal of information is still out there in the lives of people waiting to be garnered. 

With every interview, we added another piece to the puzzle and the overall picture got clearer.

We will always remember bits of advice we received from the processing managers and farmers at the tail end of every interaction.  Traveling from one point to the other, the views we enjoyed on the way to meeting our respective respondents were marvelous. We miss the bumpy rides already! We will always be grateful to these farmers and processors from whose lives we have learnt so much, most especially the wonderful but few women thriving in this male dominated industry.

Many thanks to the Soybean Innovation Lab and the United States Agency for International Development to have given us such an opportunity to participate in this wonderful experience.

Images:
Top: YouthMappers meeting with SIL's Dr. Goldsmith.
Middle: A hardworking employee at Vester Oil Mills
Bottom: The team with Mr. Daniel Kwaku Gyasi (center), the General Manager of AgriCare.

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This project was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development. The contents are the responsibility of SIL and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.