Education  Ghana Project #43128

Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians

by Obrobibini Peace Complex
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Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians
Sustainability training for marginalized Ghanaians

Background

The r4d Synthesis project “Food Systems Caravan” (FSC) documented various r4d projects around sustainable and organic food systems in five West African countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin and Nigeria) in 2019. Obrobibini Peace Complex (OPC) was assigned the mandate to take the resulting short technical videos and longer documentary (entitled “The Green Vein”) to relevant stakeholders in Ghana in 2020/2021. The report below summarizes the activities organized, as well as the main lines of feedback received from stakeholders and respective follow-up activities planned. The financial report is also annexed in this document.

 

Activities organized

In 2020, OPC organized the dubbing of three shorter technical videos available on the FSC website into the local language Twi. This was necessary in order to be able to take the contents shown in the videos to the target audience of farmers in five communities, as well as to agricultural students at two Senior High Schools. With the translated videos (available here (IFWA project), here (Orm4Soil project) and here (YamSys project)), we visited the farming communities in Krofu and Nkwanta (Central Region), in Alavanyo and Abofrem (Western North Region) as well as in Busua (Western Region). Furthermore, we visited classes of agricultural students at the Mankessim Senior High School in Mankessim (Central Region) as well as at the Baidoo Bonsoe Senior High School in Agona (Western Region). The selection of the farming communities and Senior High Schools was influenced by OPC’s interventions in other projects and respective existing links. This first part of the activities took place between 16 and 24 November 2020. In total, some 200 farmers and 100 students were involved in the activities. Figure 1 shows some impressions from these events.

Through the events organized, students learnt new things with respect to sustainable and organic food systems that were not part of the curriculum taught at their respective institutions. Farmers endorsed most of the contents shown in the videos and shared knowledge about traditional farming methods practiced by their ancestors. According to the farmers, this knowledge has been lost in the last generation because conventional farming has taken over, simplifying farming and having many hidden disadvantages that do not show up immediately. The main lines of content discussed were the need for proper management of locally available organic resources, the need to stop excessive burning practices in the farms, as well as the need to diversify ones farming activities, practice crop rotation and use locally adapted crop varieties and animal races. The lively discussions following the video screenings showed that a lot of mutual learning happened to advance sustainable and organic agriculture in Ghana.

In 2021, we organized screenings of the longer documentary entitled “The Green Vein” (see the trailer) with various stakeholders, including farmers, students, policy makers, academics, extension agents, farmer-based organizations and others in the three major cities Accra (Greater Accra Region), Kumasi (Ashanti Region) and Bolgatanga (Upper East Region). Colleagues from AgroEco (Luis Bolk Institute) took chance of our organizing these events to discuss the final draft of the national organic action plan for Ghana with the same group of stakeholders, which presented a nice synergy for the further development of the organic sector in the country. After a general introduction by Dr Christian Andres, which focused on OPC, FSC and ago-ecology in general, we screened the documentary. After the screenings, we discussed the questions below in a facilitated panel discussion with one representative each from farmers, students, policy makers and academics. This second part of the activities took place between 12 and 19 June 2021. In total, 135 participants were part of these meetings (see lists in Appendix, Table 1, Table 2 and Table 3). Figure 2 shows some impressions from these events.

 

Links to media coverage of the documentary screening events organized in 2021

Agric Production: Farmers Implored To Use More Organic Fertilizers (Kumasi event, TV, online)

Stakeholders meeting on food system caravan held (Bolgatanga event, print, online)

Stakeholders meeting on Food System Caravan held in Bolgatanga (Bolgatanga event, print, online)

 

Questions discussed during the panel discussions after the documentary screenings

  1. How can we guarantee the availability of sufficient organic input materials such as the ones shown in the movie (mulch, fertilizers, biochar, insect-based animal feed, etc.), especially for many farmers in decentralized locations and for large-scale operations?
  2. The movie shows one example of a young person from Mali who chose agriculture over football for a career. As we all know, this is the exception rather than the rule. How can we better motivate our youth to go into agriculture, develop the business narrative of agriculture and make agriculture “sexy” again?
  3. The movie shows many pioneers in agro-ecology practising sustainable and organic farming systems in West Africa. How can we improve networking between these rather isolated initiatives to increase peer-to-peer learning, cohesion and to build critical mass (e.g. program for experience exchanges, etc.)?
  4. What are policy makers already doing to help transitioning our food system into a more sustainable and organic direction, and how can they further help to push this agenda?

 

The discussion with the panellists about the contents of the videos were targeted at shedding light on the limitations for the development of sustainable and organic food systems in order to reach systemic relevance in West Africa. Their responses and interaction with the audience mainly highlighted the following issues:

 

Question 1

-          Quality organic inputs should be produced and made available at vantage points throughout the country;

-          The bulkiness of the materials makes transport difficult, and respective solutions should be worked out;

-          Farmers need to be properly trained and supported in transitioning to the use of more organic inputs, e.g. separating organic from inorganic waste, composting, etc.;

-          One needs a strategic planning of an organic farming operation in terms of availability of raw materials, crop varieties and animal races used, cash flow projections, marketing, networking as well as intercropping and crop rotation practices;

-          Demonstration farms should be established where successful organic operations could be showcased to convince farmers and build up an organic network of cooperatives; more attention needs to be given to the diffusion of information to farmers as well as adoption constraints on their part;

-          Organic farmers need to be aware that it takes time to build up the life of the soil and reap profits compared to the conventional system using short-term thinking and approaches;

-          Farmers can take up the challenge to collect organic materials from their communities by setting up respective bin collection systems from households.

 

Question 2

-          Lack of support in terms of access to land and credit for youth to go into farming;

-          Image and portraying of farming in textbooks (farmer in shabby clothes, etc.), as well as giving farming tasks as a punishment to students (e.g. weeding of the school compound) is not encouraging them to go into agriculture;

-          Some parents intentionally want to divert their children from agriculture because of their view of farming;

-          Academics and other officials who have experience, success stories to share, as well as links to successful farmers should facilitate appropriate linkages with interested students;

-          Radio programmes can help to further raise the interest of youth in agriculture, and the business approach to agriculture should be highlighted (whole value chain, value addition, not only mere production);

-          Organic farming should be integrated into curriculum (currently not the case) and more practical activities should be done;

-          The government should recruit more agricultural extension agents among the youth who have been trained for the job.

 

Question 3

-          A database of all organic farmers as well as input dealers and other important value chain actors should be developed for easy communication flow; starting point may be the existing networks of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) Ghana as well as the Ecological Organic Agriculture Platform of Ghana (EOAP-G);

-          Traditional authorities (chiefs) should be included in these networks, because they can make sure the word really spreads to the ground, and they can also facilitate access to land;

-          NGOs should help to make linkages between institutions who are already into agro-ecology and interested farmers;

-          The use of Social Media (WhatsApp, fb, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) should be intensified;

-          More trade fairs should be organized;

-          Extension services should help to form more organic farmer groups and cooperatives.

 

Question 4

-          Farmers are being trained about the potentially negative impact of conventional inputs, and youth are being encouraged to go into greenhouse farming;

-          The government is promoting organic farming through various means such as providing subsidized organic inputs and making new policies. However, these are not done in close cooperation with farmers, which limits the impact on the ground and should be improved in the future;

-          There should be more interventions in public awareness raising about the need and benefits of producing and consuming organic produce;

-          The government should set up more decentralized waste treatment facilities (coupled with the national waste disposal service called “Zoomlion”) for production of organic inputs;

-          The government should make more efforts in implementing policies developed on paper.

 

Follow-up activities

OPC will participate in the r4d Science Fair organized by the r4d programme in Benin in the second half of September 2021. The participation will give the OPC team the opportunity to exchange with the implementing dissemination partners from the other four countries in order to synthesize inputs made during the respective dissemination events. Furthermore, the exercise during the r4d Science Fair and planned visits of OPC to selected project sites in Benin after the event shall provide a stepping-stone towards the launch of an agro-ecological network in West Africa. The mission of this network shall be to spearhead the necessary processes with respective stakeholders in order for agro-ecology to become systemically relevant in West Africa.


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Dear friends and supporters,

Thank you so much for your wishes and donations. Your continuous support is important to us and the success of OPC - you are a part of the whole development process.

Take some time if you wish to read a short report about our latest progress - it is again thanks to your support that we get closer and closer to shaping our common sustainable future.

We appreciate your support and find it is important that you follow our progress. Therefore, please find the latest updates of our efforts below.

 

Administration building - work in progress

Take a look at our future administration building, we are already in love and want to start operationalising the centre soon!

 

Living house

Our living house is also almost finished! Five beautiful rustic dormitory-style rooms for workers, students, and volunteers. Akwaaba!

 

Harvest success

We are harvesting the first fruits from our trees, oil palm fruits, and vegetables are doing fine too. Our mushrooms are now available at Shoprite, the biggest supermarket chain in Ghana. At our bigger farm in Mankessim, we have started producing Gari (coarse cassava flour) at commercial scale. We are very proud of the work accomplished! Would you like to try them?

 

         

 

We appreciate your kind support - without it, we could have never achieved what you can see on the pictures, you are an essential part of our success, thank you so much!

 

Kind regards,


Dr Christian Andres
OPC President

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PAUL ultrafiltration module
PAUL ultrafiltration module

Water is life or how we came to install PAUL at OPC

First, we conducted a groundwater analysis, which showed that the main function of the water filtration system should be to exclude bacteriological contamination, as we found E. coli in the samples. In contrast, the dissolved parameters (e.g., salinity or dis-solved organic carbon) were at low levels and therefore not critical. We measured some level of arsenic in some of the samples, but on-site colorimetric tests did not confirm arsenic contamination. These advanced water analyses, conducted in our case by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) water laboratory in Kumasi, help tremendously in planning water treatment systems in decentralized locations.

In the next step, we conducted technology and market research and selected the GDM technology with the PAUL as perfectly suited for the decentralized, small, and technically straightforward application we were looking for. Another challenge was the large distance between the borehole and the place of use (kitchen, garden). After discussions with some GDM experts at KNUST, we decided to install the water tower as close as possible to the kitchen to keep the freshwater pipes as short as possible. The next step was more detailed planning and procurement of all necessary materials. Once all the materials were available at the site, we discussed the whole project with a local mason who helped us build the tower. We integrated two wooden beams in the center, on which we placed the PAUL once the plastering was completed. Pipe laying and plumbing was another skill we had to learn. The straightforward approach, which produced tangible results very quickly, was very gratifying and lifted the spirit of the entire team involved in the project considerably.

Results and outlook

Since commissioning the PAUL ultrafiltration module, we have filtered about 21,000 liters of water in nine months, which corresponds to about 1,400 packs of pure water or about CHF 700. Since the cost of the entire system was about CHF 2,000, we expect to recover the investment cost for the entire system in about two years. In addition, we save costs for the transport of pure water to the ecovillage and have non - monetary side effects such as facilitation of everyday life and general improvement of hygienic conditions in the village. However, one of the main benefits is that we do not contribute to environmental pollution with plastic bags, a very important point for us as an ecovillage!!!

The surrounding community members can now conveniently get water at our tank without walking long distances to the nearest well and without having to fetch the water from the well with buckets, a significant improvement in their daily lives! This improves the harmony between our ecovillage and the surrounding families. In addition, the people who walk through the ecovillage to get to their fields can now put filtered drinking water in their jerry cans and help protect the environment!

The next upgrade to our water system will be to automate the entire system. First, we will place another tank („main distribution tank“) on top of a three-story building we are currently constructing near the borehole. This tank, as well as the borehole pump at a depth of 40 m, will be equipped with floating sensors that communicate with each other. All the water we consume at OPC then initially passes through the main distribution tank. As soon as we consume water at any consumption point on the site, the water level in the main distribution tank drops, which activates the float sensor to tell the borehole pump to pump water. In this way, we can avoid having to run to the borehole to activate the pump as soon as someone needs a larger amount of water at a specific consumption point on the site, which will once again make work and life much easier.

„Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose“ (Janis Joplin); so, through the power of our collective virtue and merit that we have created and will create by participating in this project, may every living being find everlasting peace and happiness, and thus come to the realization that, in fact, and truth, there is nothing to lose. This is freedom. „OPC - Freeeeeeee!!!“ - this is our local shout in the streets of Busua ;)

PAUL ultrafiltration module
PAUL ultrafiltration module

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Sustainable palm oil

Shortly after finishing the foundation of the oil palm mill we covered the whole space with a nice step wise roof   Just look how beautiful this mill is! Now we are only waiting for the land to be electrified by the national grid before we can start producing a sustainable palm oil (capacity: 1'000 - 3'000 liters of oil per DAY!)

Think about it: just the weigh of the cement alone that we used to build the mill is more than 10 tons!!!!

And who came to check the progress? Can you guess? No way! The Swiss Ambassador in Ghana together with his family visited our place to see how we are progressing (the Swiss embassy gave us a grant for the project  )

 

 

Bio gas plant 

Right beside the palm oil mill we have built a bio gas plant, which will treat the waste coming from the mill and produce bio gas to be used for cooking or as a liquid fertilizer for our agriculture needs 

 

 

Organic Farm Certificate

         

The biggest highlight of this new year - we have received an organic certification from the PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) label    And this is already in our first session!!

 

Educating the community - spreading the knowledge so needed

         

         

Under the name "Food Systems Caravan Dissemination Tour 2020" we successfully completed a tour through 3 regions: central, western-north, and western parts of Ghana. During the tour we showed educational videos about sustainable and organic agriculture in different farming communities and senior high schools. Result? More than 200 farmers and 100 students were inspired by the film and could ask us questions directly.

Thanks to the SNF for funding this project

 

And in a beautiful place like Busua we can always replenish our energy and relax after a hard week.
Greetings from Ghana

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Dear friends and supporters,

We truly hope and your family are healthy and safe during these uncertain times, and especially in the face of the "second wave" of corona cases.

For us in Ghana, it seems that the situation has stabilized since September and the number of cases has decreased. Ghana was even ranked as the 'best' responsive country in Africa on COVID-19 prevention measures and other factors. Though the situation in the labor market does not look so good. Ghana's Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates that more around 500'00 jobs were lost in less than 6 months after the first COVID-19 case in March 2020 and jobs of about 11.2 million people in Ghana were affected. The number might be not as big as in Europe and America but for a small country like Ghana, it represents a disaster for many families - in many households, there is only one person who owns a job and earns a living for the rest of the family.

In light of the worsening economic situation, our work becomes even more meaningful. The benefits of building a learning center where locals can get an education on how to grow sustainable food with minimum resources, as well as creating new jobs within our organization are clear.

And you are a part of this development process. We would like to thank you once again for your engagement and donations

We hope that you will welcome our efforts. However, if you no longer wish to receive the newsletter, please use the unsubscribe button at the end of the email.


Kind regards,
Dr. Christian Andres
OPC President

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Say NO to plastic
At OPC in Busua, our new water filtration system is working perfectly well and provides the whole team with high-quality drinking water. In only 5 months we have filtered about 15'000 liters and thus saved approximately 15'000 plastic bottles/1'000 big and 30'000 small plastic bags!!! We all are so happy with the new system.

Water is Life

 

Harvest and construction of the dryer
As you can see in the pictures above, we were manually harvesting white and yellow maize. Fuffff   What hard work!!! Afterward, we had to carry the crops to the post-harvest site, thresh it and then apply two stages drying process. To help us with the drying process and in order to better preserve the crops for long term storage, it was decided to purchase a Ghana-made solar dryer from a local innovative company. This machine is capable of drying up to 2 tonnes of grain per day!

All in all, we collected almost 10 TONNES of grain - manually!!! And do not forget that w never used ANY kind of pesticides or fertilizes - pure organic. By the way, our first PGS organic certification exercise was successful and we were recommended as "fully in conversion"

At the moment we are busy planting the second season crops: groundnuts, millet, cowpeas, and soybeans.

 

Replenishing the energies
After much hard work, a little party at the beach to replenish the energy was welcomed by the OPC family

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Organization Information

Obrobibini Peace Complex

Location: Zurich - Switzerland
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @obrobibini
Obrobibini Peace Complex
Christian Andres
Project Leader:
Christian Andres
Zurich, Switzerland

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