That notwithstanding, some few people are still passionate about engaging in agriculture to feed the nation and the world at large.
Having almost relegated agriculture to the background, farmlands have been destroyed in attempts to extract mineral resources including the recently discovered oil among other things, posing a lot of challenges to those who intend to do agriculture now.
Reverend Investor Agyekum Nimako is a Ghanaian pastor based in Adenta, a suburb of the Greater Accra Region. He has a passion for agriculture to help feed the country, and rearing grasscutters is just one of the agricultural activities he is involved in.
As the name suggests, the animals feed heavily on green grass which makes the man of God’s vision almost impracticable in Accra due to the nature of the city - no proper land tenure system, let alone farmlands.
Besides, the man of God could not guarantee the safety of his animals if he chose to depend on grasses in the neighbourhood or buy from those whose business it has become to travel long distances to cut grasses for sale to animal owners in the city, he may end up poisoning the animals unknowingly in case the grasses were sprayed with dangerous weedicides.
According to Reverend Investor Agyekum Nimako, his visit to other people who are already into the grasscutter rearing project revealed to him that food poisoning is one of the challenges to their venture, resulting in the death of many of the animals.
Despite all the challenges, the pastor was still bent on starting his grasscutter farm. He started with just a few animals late last year (2019) and now has 40 grasscutters with the expectation to see multiplication in the numbers as many females are already pregnant.
The God factor
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of inventions, so Reverend Investor Agyekum Nimako continued to rack his brain to find a solution to the challenge of getting poison-free feed for his grasscutters until an unconventional idea crossed his mind.
According to him, he had a direction from God to convert the roof of his building into farmland where he would grow green grasses and other crops to feed the animals, and that’s exactly what the determined man of God has been doing till date.
“The whole idea of producing crops on top of my building to feed my grasscutter farm came as a result of visiting about 10 to 15 grasscutter farms where all of them complained about the usage of poisoned weedicides which has affected their feed and sometimes unknowingly they cut some of these feed and give to their animals and they die,” Reverend Investor Agyekum Nimako told Pulse Ghana.
“...one farmer around Abokobi ...he told me the unfortunate story of losing about 50 of his grasscutters... The question that I had to answer was whether to continue the project or look at other options but I prayed to God as a pastor and God gave me the idea that our land in Ghana here is rich, therefore if I can transport this same soil from somewhere to the top of my house, I can solve that problem by providing feed consistently to feed my grasscutters,” he added.
He conveyed a good number of used lorry tyres to the top of the building and filled each of them with fertile sand in which he plants the grasses and crops to feed the animals.
Source of water for irrigation
The pastor doesn’t necessarily depend on rainwater to grow the crops. He has laid pipes to the top of the house and uses the water from his water tank to irrigate the farm with the help of a pumping machine.
He said selling the animals now is not his priority but he wants to hit a target of two thousand grasscutters before he can contemplate the idea of selling them for consumption.
High demand for grasscutter and a good source of livelihood
The grasscutter was a highly demanded delicacy in Africa until the outbreak of the Ebola disease (a severe haemorrhagic fever that is thought to be transmitted to people from wild animals) which made most consumers of bushmeat stay away from it as recommended by health experts to avoid being infected by the deadly disease.
Even amid the Ebola crisis, the price of domesticated grasscutter reportedly increased by about 67 per cent from GH¢90 to GH¢150 in Ghanaian markets.
As of 2018, a mature grass-cutter reportedly cost about GH¢200.00 in the market, and t its rearing has been recommended as a means of income to alleviate severe poverty and hunger.
In 2014, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) pumped US$500,000 into the Ghana Grass-cutter Project to provide cages and acquire breeding stock for about 54 farmers in 18 communities in the Upper West Region.
Also, in 2018, the Ajinomoto Foundation in Japan invested nine million Japanese Yen (about US$80,000) into grasscutter farming in seven districts of the same region for three years.
The investment aimed to help boost protein production and intake was channelled through the Grasscutter Initiative for Rural Transformation, a local non-governmental organisation, championing grass-cutter rearing in rural communities as a means of creating job opportunities and reducing poverty.
Over 50 farmers are supposed to be benefiting from investment support which was expected to produce at least 600 grass-cutters within the project lifespan of three years.
Having discovered his passion for rearing grasscutters and the level of investments Reverend Investor Agyekum Nimako is making into this project, it will not be surprising if he starts reaping huge benefits soon barring any hitches.
Well, aside from the personal benefits he stands to gain, he is also helping in maintaining a clean society by putting to use old nondegradable lorry tyres that would have either littered the environment or been burnt which consequently would cause air pollution and further depletion of the already delicate ozone layer.