According to one of the inventors, the whole idea was borne out of an attempt to solve problems of school absenteeism in rural areas and also find a source of livelihood after National service.
In order not to join the many unemployed youths in the country, Theodore Ohene-Botway tells Citi News that just after national service, he and a colleague (Jeffrey) decided to set up a company to manufacture farm machines.
He says the idea about setting up the company started when his co-founder, Jeffrey, was posted to teach in a school in the Savannah Region to have his national service, where he got to know that access to farm machinery was a major challenge for smallholder farmers.
Farmers then rely on their children when harvesting their farm produce, which negatively affected the pupils’ punctuality.
“As somebody from the southern part of Ghana, you see that when this thing continues like that, the children will not have the kind of future given, since they are missing school days”.
Theodore says he and his colleague (Jeffrey) then decided to come up to help address the challenge and also create job opportunities for themselves and other colleagues.
“With his (Jeffrey) background in agriculture and biosystem, which he did in KNUST, he contacted me. My background is mechanical engineering, and we were friends back on campus. So he said that why not design agric machines, make them locally fabricated so that we can make them faster, then these machines will be taken to these communities to assist the farmers to thresh their grain faster, in that way at least we are contributing to solving the problem of children having to leave school to to go and do farm work,” Theodore Ohene-Botchway a Co-founder narrated.”
He says the company since it started, has manufactured various types of farm machines which are usually transported to farms across the country to help smallholder farmers.
Since the primary aim is to help smallholder farmers whose financial backgrounds are weak, Theodore Ohene Botway listed some machines SAYeTECH produces and strategies the company has put in place to make the machines accessible to smallholder farmers since they cannot afford them.
” Our multi-crop thresher XT 6000 gen 2, that’s our flagship product. This one is used for threshing the major crops grown in sub-Sahara or Ghana. We have maize, we have soya bean, we have rice, we have sorghum and millet.”
This one machine can thresh all of those for you. You can easily pull it with either a tractor or motor king. We also have a multi-grain cleaner. In areas where people have already done manual threshing, you see that some produce is mixed with dirt and grain, and you can’t really sell on the market.”
“So the multi-grain cleaner helps to do the cleaning at the farm gate before an aggregator comes to buy, so in that sense even if you didn’t use a machine to thresh you do have a machine that can do a good level of cleaning for you to attract premium prices for your work. We notice that farmers are typically smallholder farmers. You don’t need to burden them with owning equipment because the maintenance becomes a whole issue, so our model has been to sell to people who provide services for these farmers,” he explained.
As a start-up company, Theodore Ohene-Botchway says funding has been a major challenge for them. He has thus appealed to investors to come on board in order to help expand the company.
“The challenge has been funding. It’s quite difficult for a manufacturing company as it doesn’t look as attractive because of the barriers to investment in the sense that you have to put in more money to make more equipment. So we are calling on the general investor community who have the interest to turn their eyes to some level of manufacturers because, you know, this is a huge problem that we face not just in Ghana but Sub-Saharan Africa that needs attention as much as we can get,” Theodore Ohene-Botchway appealed.