AfricaLive: Please tell readers about the DNA of Danamp Company Limited and your motivation for establishing the company.
David Ampiah: It all started in the late ‘90s when I was a purchasing officer for an Indian Ghanaian company, and then moved on to do the same for other companies. I was so good at it that i decided to get into the import-export business under my own company ‘David Ampiah Enterprises’. After some notable successes, it came a time when we had to move on from an enterprise to a limited liability company, and that is how Danamp Company Limited was born.
Our ambition from the start was to develop and become an international producer that adheres to global standards. We are an agri-business firm that is yet to fulfill our highest potential because of some bumps we have hit with the international market. Despite the hardships and setbacks, we are still motivated to push on and achieve our objectives as a producer of fruits and groceries.
AfricaLive: With the realisation that penetrating into European markets requires certain prescribed standards, what initiatives have you considered to ensure that your products match the quality required?
David Ampiah: Quality is of primary concern to us. We have travelled far and wide all over the country to places like Takoradi and Swedru training farmers. We train them on what to do and how to produce a great product. The government has designed some training programmes for farmers, but I believe more has to be done to raise the quality of our crop. We cannot service the demand we get all by ourselves, that is why we take the training of farmers very seriously. Our mutual success largely hinges on our ability to come through for each other.
AfricaLive: As your company continues to grow, what are your ambitions both in the short and long term?
David Ampiah: Covid-19 has ruined my calendar this year because I was supposed to be in Turkey some months back. It was going to be a farm practices educational trip that would have seen us gain a lot. We are always open to learning about farm mechanisation practises so that we can bring that back home and increase our yield. Whatever we learn in our many forays, we teach local farmers so that they can improve themselves as well. Farmers need not improve just for the sake of servicing foreign consumers, but also for helping the local economy.
AfricaLive: Agriculture is one of Ghana’s prime sectors that the government is keen on. What would you consider to be the opportunities and threats in your industry not only within Ghana but the rest of the region as well?
David Ampiah: Land is a big issue in this sector. There is the issue of ancestral family land usually owned by families. If your family does not own land, then you can’t farm. We are also losing many acres of land to real estate developers that could have been used for farming and production. Real estate developers can go for years without developing the acres of land they acquire, so we lose years of farm production. We also have a social conditioning problem that has been an issue for many decades. When you erred in school, the punishment was to go and work on the school farm. Punishments of that nature instil an idea that suggests that farming is a punishment, and not a viable career option.
Most parents also do not entertain the idea of their children being into agribusiness; they would rather they become accountants or other mainstreamed professions. Social conditioning like this hurts agricultural innovation in our countries, as well as food security. We must rectify this through our school system and instil the idea that farming is one of the best career options to pursue. Our industry also suffers from tight funding that leads to things like poor irrigation practices, where we only depend on the seasonal rains for sustainable farming.
When it comes to opportunities, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) is something to look forward to. If the agreement is carried out as stipulated, then it will be a big boost to every business person in Africa.
AfricaLive: What new markets within the continent are you looking at venturing into?
David Ampiah: We’ve been getting enquiries from Tunisian firms about cocoa, and pineapples which means that the country could be a great prospect. Markets like Togo, Benin and Nigeria are also part of our agenda. The West African markets I just mentioned are always contacting us for products, so I can only imagine what will happen after the AfCFTA is finalised. If AfCFTA is implemented properly, we will be able to open up new markets more quickly and have great product exchanges.
AfricaLive: When it comes to sustainable farming, what have you done, or are you doing to promote that?
David Ampiah: We have in the past given small loans to farmers to improve their practices. The government is now giving out soft loans to farmers to cushion against the effects of Covid-19, which helps boost our efforts. On top of funding, we used to offer farmers free seeds and do land harrowing for them. Our efforts were to help them maintain certain standards. We are happy that the government is chipping in now.
AfricaLive: If you were to send a message of confidence to our readers not only about Danamp Company Limited, but also Ghana, what would that message be?
David Ampiah: Whenever I speak to outsiders, I tell them that money is like a river and if you want the water you go where the river is. In that analogy, Ghana is the river because there are many opportunities if you have the right partners. As a company, we also have plans of adding value to our product and making some processed foods created from our mechanised efforts.
AfricaLive: Speaking of value addition, is that your long term objective a decade from now?
David Ampiah: We are progressing towards that direction swiftly. When we get the right funding and proper partners, we will be heavily into value addition. We have some of the best raw materials in the world, so creating quality products that the world will love should not be a problem. I can say for sure that we will have made great advancements ten years from now.