Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Intervention
Majority of Ghana’s population lives in rural areas with agriculture as their main economic activity. With the rural sector producing the bulk of the nation’s output of food, the standard of living of the rural people needs to be improved. One way of achieving this is a carefully planned and implemented agricultural transformation strategy necessary to accelerate the pace of agricultural modernization for increased yield and income. Among the objectives of provision of extension services is to transfer improved agricultural technologies to the farmers and assist them to secure micro loans get access to market to enable them increase farm productivity to create wealth for improved living standards.
According to available statistics from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture national farmer-extension ratio stands at 1 Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA) to 1,500 farmers (1:1500). The situation is compounded by lack of the right combination of logistics such as motor bikes, computers and information for the few AEAs to discharge their duties effectively. Besides, the challenge with inadequate extension officers, there are no incentives for AEAs in Ghana, especially those working in very deprived and hard-to-reach communities resulting in them being demoralised scarce and unproductive.
The consequences of poor extension services delivery to smallholder farmers results in poor adherence to good agronomic practices; post-harvest management challenges; inefficient use of inputs; abuse of pesticides; low adaptive capacity for research and technology uptake; and inadequate access to auxiliary information that could help increase agricultural productivity in Ghana.
Based on the above challenges confronting the agriculture sector especially the crop sector, CIWED in Partnership with International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) with funding from USAID started implementation of a five-year Agriculture Technology Transfer (ATT) project in 2013. The project aimed at improving the productivity of maize, rice and soyabean value chains thereby making them competitive. The project is working with local implementing partners (LIPs). Two of the strategies used by the project to enable farmer to improve upon yields are:
- Sensitisations Agriculture Using Video Screening and
- Soybean and Maize Seed Production of climate – promoting Afayak and Wangdata soybean and maize seeds respectively.
Sensitisations on Agriculture Technology Using Video Screening Project
CIWED as a Local Implementing Partner (LIP) uses videos from IFDC to sensitise farmer-based organisations (FBOs) and other smallholder farmers on soil testing procedures, land clearing, planting in rows using the right methods to meet plant population on acre basis, right method of fertiliser application (Urea Deep Placement), right method of weed control and other best agronomic practices, all geared towards placing the smallholder farmers in a position to get more yields and become profitable farmers. The video screening reached out to over 2,732 farmers in 15 communities in the Bole district. The project is specifically promoting three crops, namely; Maize, Soybeans and Rice in the three northern regions of Ghana.
Aside the sensitisations, CIWED distributed 418 starter packs to 418 smallholder farmers in Bole district to plant demonstration fields that will make them adopt the various technologies transfer. The starter pack is a package containing 0.5kg of certified maize seeds, 5.5kg of NPK, 5.5kg of Urea briquette, hand gloves and ropes, all contained in one and given to an individual farmer for demonstration field.
As part of the activities of the ATT project, CIWED organised two (2) Technology Fairs aimed at bringing all the drivers in agriculture also known as the movers and shakers of the agriculture sector together, which included the agro-chemical dealers, farmers, Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs), seed producers, agriculture produce marketing firms and agriculture farm implement marketing companies. The drivers of the industry brought all the farm implements together and demonstrated them to farmers as to how they are used. It also created linkages between farmers, agro-chemical dealers, marketers of agriculture produce, farm implement marketing companies as well as AEAs for information dissemination on agriculture and marketing of agriculture produce.
Soybean and Maize Seed Production – promoting Afayak and Wangdata soybean and maize seeds respectively.
IFDC partly supported CIWED to cultivate 8 hectors of maize and soybeans (4 hectors each) to certified seeds for onward distribution to farmers in Bole and Mion districts. To ensure seed producers conforms to seed production protocols, the ATT project prior to the beginning of the production season organized training on seed production that was facilitated by Ghana Seed Inspection Unit (GSIU) of MoFA. Staff of GSIU have since started the seed certification processes by primarily conducting field inspection of the seed fields. It is the expectation of CIWED that the other seed certification processes will be followed to the later to ensure that CIWED make certified seed available and accessible to farmers in the 2018 production season.