Now 67 years old, the daily hustle of walking long minutes to his crop farm to bend over and till the ground, waiting and hoping for a harvest with the uncertainties of the weather patterns sometimes going against his expectations is no longer a thing Nicholas Kweku Darko dreads.
And that was just the reason he did not let such an opportunity as grasscutter rearing and tree planting (especially the former) pass him by when everyone else fought his ability to partake in such an exercise, citing his age as a disadvantage.
“Deep down my heart, I knew this was something I could easily do so after realizing the attempt by some people to have been disqualified, I quickly rushed home to call my wife to come and be registered,” he narrated.
He added that, “Later however, after showing the much needed commitment, I was also given the two grasscutters and their cage and I got down to work.”
This has been the story of Mr. Nicholas Darko who currently lives with his family at Kaira-Kpalime in the Volta region.
Having increased the number of grass-cutters currently in his possession to more than six times the numbers Mr. Nicholas Darko received from Socioserve-Ghana, a non-governmental organization based at Akosombo in the Eastern region, he is sure the future of this business looks even brighter.
At Peki-Adzokoe, the story of Togbe Kwadzo Drah XI, isn’t any different as he describes his grass-cutters as his friends, helping him avoid the temptations of sitting for long hours and thinking about things that are not beneficial.
Today, having returned to his town from being an absentee-chief working in Accra, the growth in his yield is even more encouragement to him to make these animals more comfortable and in a way, return the joy they have brought into his life.
“When I am feeling lonely I come to them, we chat and play. And when some of them fall out of their cages and I attempt catching them, it is such a beauty especially when some will tease me by standing for a while, looking straight at me to try catching them,” he described.
This project code-named Sustainable Agriculture Promotion Project (SAPP) is part of the Community Development and Knowledge Management for the Satoyama Initiative (COMDEKS), funded by the Japan Biodiversity Fund, Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and delivered in Ghana by the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP).
The project is being implemented in communities in the Volta Region and in the Eastern Region with an objective to promote sustainable and climate-smart agricultural practices by farmers along the Weto range to enhance agricultural biodiversity and improvement in the livelihood and wellbeing of the farmers.
So far, twenty two (22) farmer households from the communities are benefiting from the project.
“They said I was an old man but I was determined to prove them wrong so when my animals gave birth for the first time, I had five more grass-cutters. I was so happy and wished that it had even given birth to more,” Mr. Nicholas Darko narrated.
His testimony today is that since he left the farm to concentrate on rearing these animals, he has been extremely happy and believes that his joy will increase the more in the next few years when his yield would have multiplied.
But Mr. Darko does not go a day without having to deal with some challenges in this line of work because above all things, his greatest worry is how to get feed for the grass cutters who he describes as being fast and heavy eaters.
Also, while he hopes he could get help from other people to buy more grass-cutters to add to the numbers, he is also seeking for help to build a more robust fencing area to house the animals and allow them move around freely without having fears that people in the community could mistake them and kill them.
For Togbe Drah XI, “Rearing these animals is not a particularly easy job especially with their feeding and if you find yourself without a lot of time on your hand, this would be a difficult job to do but with me, this has become a hobby I cannot do without.”
It is also his hope that for people who are considering going in the business of rearing grass-cutters should be patient and wait for the right time, when their animals have grown and multiplied enough, to begin to enjoy the benefits and income of the trade.