Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana

by Self-Help International
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Take Best Practices to Farmers in Rural Ghana
Getting young people involved in ag!
Getting young people involved in ag!

GlobalGiving is matching gifts up to $50 by 50%! Make a gift to your favorite Self-Help project between now and the end of Friday, Sept. 17 and GlobalGiving will match the first $50 at 50%. Full terms and conditions here.

In Self-Help International’s partner communities in Ghana, it is common to see children helping their parents on the farm during the weekend and after school. The produce grown on these farms serve as the major source of food for families and provide an income at the local market. One major challenge faced by farming families has been low yields, which has sometimes been caused by not being able to implement good agricultural and environmental practices.

Getting rural farmers to adopt new agricultural practices is one of the major challenges the agricultural sector currently faces. It is difficult for rural farmers to access new or best-practice information, so they do not always know that modified practices could positively impact their crop yields. Their children grow up and either migrate to the cities or take over the farming business, continuing to use the farming practices they learned from their parents. 

Equipping rural children with science-based agricultural and environmental practices plays a vital role in improving the quality of agriculture in these communities because they are directly involved in the agricultural activities on their families’ farms from a very young age. 

To teach children about agriculture, Self-Help introduced the Youth in Agriculture Program in 2018 through the Agriculture and Entrepreneur Program. Currently, eight schools are enrolled in the program, and membership is composed of students from upper primary schools and junior high schools. The eight schools are located in rural communities in the Ashanti Region where Self-Help operates: Nkontomire, Nyamebekyere, Kyereyase, Timeabu, Bedabour, Beposo, Nkawkom and Kukuboso. 

Through the program, the students in these communities are equipped with resources, knowledge in good agricultural practices, and entrepreneurship skills training. Emphasis is placed on hands-on and experiential learning methods. Each club identifies and implements a field project throughout the school year to practice what they are learning and to generate an income to sustain the club.  Lessons learned during the club activities and field visits are carried on to their parents’ farms and their communities. Some of the students have even started their own individual projects at home with support from Self-Help and their club advisors. 

Self-Help’s team knows that the future of Ghana depends on the quality of agriculture and by engaging young people in learning about agriculture, Self-Help hopes to improve family nutrition and local community markets.

Students learning about ag.
Students learning about ag.
Learning about ag can be fun and engaging.
Learning about ag can be fun and engaging.
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Self-Help International is working with rural communities and schools in Ghana to increase the growing and consumption of healthy and nutritious foods and to make farming a sustainable business. Self-Help’s Agriculture and Entrepreneur Development (AED) team offers students in upper elementary and junior high school training on agriculture to help young people embrace agriculture. Self-Help works with teachers and students to form agri-business clubs in the schools. Students are then trained and coached to select an agriculture project they are interested in. Self-Help works with the club to help acquire the inputs the students need for their projects. Self-Help staff have seen that the students’ excitement for their projects often has an impact on their family or others in the community. 

14-year-old Micheal and his brother, 11-year-old Akwasi, attend school in Nyamebekyere, a small, rural community in the Ashanti Region in Ghana. They live in a village called Apuayim, just 2 kilometers from their school. They have been part of the Self-Help Agri-Business club at their school since 2019.

One of the projects of the Agri-Business club in Nyamebekyere is to assist with cultivating maize that is used for the School Feeding Program, which is run jointly by Self-Help and the community. Micheal and his brother have been joining and participating in training on the maize plot at their school, which grows Quality Protein Maize using conservation agriculture practices. They have learned a lot from the demonstration at their school.

Michael and his brother have a small plot of land given to them by their father (approx 0.8 acre). They chose to plant maize for the 2021 season, following protocols they had learned and observed during Self-Help’s training at the community demonstration plot. Despite the delayed and unpredictable rains and the late planting, their farm was one of the best in the village. They were the first to harvest fresh corn. They are now telling their friends and family about conservation agriculture and good agricultural practices in order to help their neighbors maximize their yields on their plots as well.

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Healthy chickens!
Healthy chickens!

Rural poultry production is recognized as an important agricultural activity in many countries. Poultry is generally owned and managed by women and children, and the major source of animal protein in a rural family’s diet is poultry. Traditionally, the weight of village chickens and their egg output are low. Both of these things can be improved with factors like housing, disease control, management, and supplementary feeding. 

Self-Help International estimates that over 90% of rural households in Self-Help’s partner communities in Ghana own poultry.  Accessing veterinary services for poultry in these communities is a challenge in Ghana, and this causes them to lose their birds, especially during a disease outbreak. 

One of the outbreaks that causes high poultry mortalities in Self-Help’s partner communities is the annual Newcastle disease. The Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) states that this disease kills more than 90% of unvaccinated birds during outbreaks between December and February.

Around November 2020, women that owned birds in some of Self-Help’s partner communities expressed concern about how they had lost almost all of their birds during previous years. Self-Help’s Agriculture Extension team did due diligence data collection in five partner communities to confirm the issue the women raised. From the data, Self-Help realized these communities lose over 5,000 birds annually. For sustainability reasons, the team also involved the Department of Agriculture and the Veterinary in dealing with this challenge.

Self-Help’s Agriculture Extension team, with support from MOFA, supported five partner communities - Timeabu, Beposo, Asuogya, Abompe, and Kukuboso - through a mass rural community vaccination program. 3,412 rural birds were vaccinated in January 2021. This exercise involved 132 houses that owned poultry.

In March 2021 during a follow-up on bird's response to the vaccines, the communities were thankful to Self-Help and the community poultry vaccination because they saw a great drop in bird mortality in 2021.  This development will improve poultry output and household nutrition in these communities.

Community vaccination.
Community vaccination.
Household poultry.
Household poultry.
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Innocent tending his garden.
Innocent tending his garden.

According to nutritionists, including vegetables and fruits in a diet can reduce the risk of some diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic poses a great threat to human health and all aspects of society, including food security. In addition to the individual measures that have been laid out to prevent the spread, people are also recommended to stay strong and healthy to be able to fight against the disease. The Ghanaian diet is largely made up of starchy roots and cereals like cassava, maize, and yam, which are all good sources of energy but lack essential vitamins that can help fight against diseases. The divide between food access in rural and urban communities is stark, and the most malnourished and vulnerable are usually women and children.

Self-Help International is working with rural communities to increase the cultivation and consumption of healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables. The Agriculture and Entrepreneurship Development (AED) team offers rural communities vegetable and fruit garden training involving hands-on demonstrations and also supplies them with planting materials to start their gardens.

Innocent, an 11-year old boy who lives with his parents in Nkontomire, Ghana, is determined to promote the growing and consumption of vegetables and fruits in his community. Self-Help gave Innocent and his family hands-on training on vegetable and fruit gardening. Self-Help’s AED team also supplied Innocent with vegetable seeds and seedlings to start his garden to feed his family. 

The family had land space around the house which mostly had plantain crops. Innocent, in his quest to start his garden, resorted to clearing a portion of the land occupied by plantain to create space for his garden. Self-Help’s AED team coached Innocent as he started his garden, and he currently has nine varieties of vegetables and fruits. When Self-Help’s staff asked Innocent what he was going to do with the vegetables in his garden, he said that he will make sure he eats some with his family and sells the remaining produce to buy clothes.  

Innocent has started telling his friends about gardening at home and he assists those interested in preparing their backyard for a garden. He also links people to Self-Help’s home gardening project to start their gardens. 

Innocent’s mother is very happy and supportive of the gardening project in her house. She said her son now wakes up with a sense of responsibility knowing that he has a garden to attend to, and she believes they will soon be eating from the garden. She believes her son will be very helpful to the community with the kind of good agricultural practices he is developing and will be able to share his knowledge with other families and farmers in Nkontomire.

Innocent and his family in their garden.
Innocent and his family in their garden.
Innocent in his garden.
Innocent in his garden.
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Akwasi's birds.
Akwasi's birds.

October 16 is World Food Day, and we're celebrating enterprising farmers like Akwasi who are doing important work in agriculture! A gift of just $25 can provide training materials to five farmers for them to grow their farms and improve their incomes!

Many countries in Africa are being faced with a high unemployment rate and they are struggling to create jobs to help address this challenge. In Ghana, young people (15-24 years old) form a large chunk of the population and also constitute a greater percentage of the unemployed. 

In an attempt to find a lasting solution, the government of Ghana introduced an initiative known as the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) in May 2018 with the goal of alleviating recent graduate unemployment and to solve social problems.

In 2019, Self-Help International received 12 NABCO members, and three of them - Shawn Agyemang, Raymond Acquah and Akwasi Osei - were assigned to the Agriculture and Entrepreneur Development Program (AED). A few months after joining Self-Help, two of the recent graduates, Shawn and Raymond, leveraged the experience they gained with AED to secure a job at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).

Akwasi Osei was assigned to assist the first batch of the Graduate Entrepreneur Program (GEP) trainees with their projects as well as contribute to other activities at the training center.

Akwasi is 26 years old and holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Marketing from the Kumasi Technical University. He joined Self-Help in August 2019. Akwasi, with his marketing background, assisted the GEP cohort with marketing their products. His involvement with GEP and the training center stirred up his passion for agriculture, especially raising animals. This passion for agriculture grew considerably stronger as time went on as he continued to observe the successes of the graduate entrepreneurs. 

“Usually, I am free after 2:00 PM, and this made me think of how I can use my idle time profitably,” Akwasi said. “After giving it deeper thought, I decided to start raising rabbits  in my free time to earn extra money.”

Akwasi constructed the rabbit pen on his own and purchased three rabbits as a start-up for his business. In about three months, he had close to 20 rabbits. Akwasi had to sell his rabbits when he moved to a new house, but his new-found passion for agriculture did not diminish. After a series of meetings with his landlord to negotiate space for his business, the landlord finally agreed to let Akwasi raise animals on his property. 

Starting a business is not easy no matter how big the idea is. Akwasi was fully aware of this and knew it wasn’t easy to bring his idea to life and make it successful. He knew he needed to start small and test the waters, which is why he began with just rabbits. Now, with the green light from his landlord, he constructed structures on his own and purchased his breeding stock to start his animal venture once again. Currently, Akwasi has three turkeys, 20 rabbits, two cattle, one sheep, and around 30 birds.

When Akwasi was asked about his plans after NABCO, with a smile on his face he said, “I would like to go into animal rearing on a large scale, and I hope to raise some funds and breeding stock from what I am currently doing.”

Enterprising and dedicated young people like Akwasi are changing the outlook on agriculture in Ghana and ensuring employment not only for themselves, but as his endeavor grows, perhaps for others as well. 

One of Akwasi's pens.
One of Akwasi's pens.
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Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Jessica Crawford
Waverly, IA United States
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