• Greg Bows

Meet Jake Moore, Our Projects Director

Jake discussing Moringa harvesting with one of GPI's development co-ordinators Rashid

Jake Moore, a softly-spoken graduate of Wabash College, recently joined Cultivate

as Chief Project Officer. His role will be to work with the cocoa farmers in Ghana,

specifically in the Volta region, to move from 100% subsistence farming to more

sustainable methods. The aim will be for the farmers to generate more income for

themselves from their cocoa farms, as well as to start saving. Jake will be working

with the farmers to start small village savings and loan schemes, while building in

information on how to budget and how to keep business records.

Before joining Cultivate, Jake spent three years in Africa as an agriculture volunteer

with the Peace Corps service, before starting his own non-profit, ScholarShop Africa,

for another two years. Unfortunately, due to the unrest in Cameroon, he had to

suspend ScholarShop and leave the country.

His work with non-profits in Africa, and especially with Cultivate, is strongly informed

by his reading of seminal works like ‘Toxic Charity’ by Robert Lupton. Lupton’s book

argues that charities often hurt those they are working to help. He states, “Giving to

those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the

kindest way to destroy people.”

With this in mind, Cultivate will undertake Community Needs Assessments in the

form of regular meetings with the local Ghanaian farmers. These gatherings will aim

to listen to what the farmers needs are, and to work with them in discerning the

difference between what they need and what they want. As Lupton argues, “To the

extent the poor are enabled to participate in the system intended to serve

them, their self-worth is enhanced.”

When Jake first encountered Cultivate and their ‘non-toxic’ approach to working with

Ghanaian farmers, he was struck by the fact that Matthew (Development Director)

and Greg (Executive Director) were there in the fields, working hands-on with the

farmers. They were not sitting far away in an airconditioned office writing emails but

were actively engaged in listening and seeing that the farmers got their needs met.

And because Cultivate is a new start-up, Jake feels there is great potential for him to

bring his vision to it, to help shape Cultivate and its work in Ghana.

Jake has just returned from his first visit to meet the Ghanaian farmers and will be

returning soon to spend eight to ten months of the year with the cocoa farmers in

Volta, as well as the moringa farmers near Teshimen. Here he will be working

closely with the Ghanaian Permaculture Institute, helping with training and with

sourcing local experts who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

As Lupton argues, a community worker needs “at least six months of being a

listening, supportive neighbour before you should attempt to initiate any new activity

in a place. Actively seek to learn about your community before assuming that you

know what they need.”

In the eight to ten months that Jake will spend in Ghana, he aims to be doing exactly

that. We asked him what a typical day in his life there will look like.

His reply: “My focus is to integrate as much as possible… so I will wake up around

six and leave the house half an hour later, in the cool of the morning. As I did in my

five years spent in villages in Cameroon, I will greet all my neighbours in Ewe*, the

local language. I’ll have as much of a conversation in Ewe as I can, to show that I’m

trying to learn their culture and that I’m not there to push my culture, that I’m actually

wanting to be there. Hopefully that will help to gain their confidence and respect.

Then I’ll have breakfast at a restaurant: definitely some starchy food and some fruit.

Then I’ll do a farm visit, and, by eleven am, after three to four hours of manual

labour, especially with the dry season sun, we’ll be tired. By noon, I’ll come back to

my house and wash, then go and have lunch in town with the locals.

In the late afternoon, depending on whether we are harvesting or planting, the farm

workers will usually take a two to three-hour break because the sun is so hot. On

days I don’t go to the farm I will usually go to the market and buy groceries.

There will also be weekly to bi-weekly meetings with farming groups to see how they

are doing and if they’re on track etc. Then, around four or five pm, I’ll go for a run or

do a little workout. In the evening, I might go to a neighbour’s house for dinner. I’ll

help them prepare the meal and then we’ll sit and eat, and have a conversation

about the day, our lives, our families. Then I’ll head home to read and sleep.”

Jake’s description of typical daily activities highlights the truth in what Lupton says,

which is that “Authentic relationships with those in need have a way of

correcting the we-will-rescue-you mind-set and replacing it with mutual

admiration and respect…”

Jake concludes, “So, it’s a much simpler life. And with that simplicity comes manual

labour and being outside in the sun, and walking, lots of walking.”

It seems like Jake is well on his way to walking down the path alongside the

Ghanaian farmers towards self-sustaining and rewarding agribusiness.

* Ewe: a major dialect spoken in southern Ghana.

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