Gearing Up in Ghana
Starting up operations in a new country is no easy feat, but the East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation team in Ghana is moving full speed ahead.
Since we announced our expansion to Ghana in December 2022, we have hired six Technical Field Officers (TFOs), a Digital Media Intern, and a new Knowledge Transfer Manager, Jemima Djah. Now, with a dedicated team in place and a plot of land secured, we are on the verge of setting up a learning farm—a key step forward.
Once the learning farm is established, we will launch our core training work, imparting valuable skills and knowledge to Ghanaian smallholder farmers.
Technical Field Officer Onboarding
No matter what country they’re in, every EWS-KT Technical Field Officer completes extensive practical and theoretical training in vegetable production, as well as learning about business planning, market conditions and connectivity, and farmer engagement and training.
For the Ghana team, onboarding began with a 10-day training in Sunyani, led by EWS-KT global staff. The TFOs practiced skills like vegetable production planning, calculating costs and returns, and developing a business plan, as well as recording and using data.
To be most effective, TFOs need to understand the agricultural value chain, and so the Ghana team headed out to talk directly to farmers, agricultural-input dealers, and vegetable sellers in Sunyani. At the Sunyani market, they surveyed consumers and traders—and delved into the crucial role the commodity chiefs play in setting prices for vegetables in the local markets.
Learning from the Nigeria Team
The TFOs then set off for Nigeria, learning everything from EWS-KT procurement processes to the right way to separate the onion leaf from the bulb after harvest—a perk of participating in a farmer Field Day event.
One highlight was a trip to a vegetable market in Kubua LGA, where the Ghana team learned more about identifying market trends and widened their understanding of aggregation centers, transporters, and how transport affects market prices.
For immersive training in the field, each TFO from Ghana was paired with a TFO from Nigeria. Riding with their Nigerian counterpart on motorbikes, the Ghanaian TFOs embarked on a series of visits to farmers and gained firsthand experience in the daily life of a TFO. They actively participated in farmers’ training sessions, which provided them with valuable insights into the expectations awaiting them upon their return to Ghana.
Getting to Know the Community: Baseline Survey
Most recently, the TFOs have been undertaking a baseline survey in Ghana’s Bono region.
Listening to the farmers and touring their fields enable the TFOs to get to know the farmers and identify ways in which EWS-KT can help them to be more productive. The baseline survey in Ghana is also helping to establish relationships with Ministry of Food and Agriculture extension staff, who are introducing the TFOs to the communities they work with.
Beyond the questions asked, the TFOs are introducing EWS-KT to farmers and community leaders and are learning about the communities in which they will be working. Every interaction is an opportunity for deeper discussion. Simon, for instance, chanced upon a farmer savings and loans group during the baseline survey and stopped to talk with the group members.
Learning Farm Preparation
In early May, the Ghana team secured land in Abesim, a town in the Sunyani municipal district, to establish a learning farm. EWS-KT learning farms showcase best agricultural practices and serve as hands-on training grounds for new Technical Field Officers, agricultural extension workers, and others in the vegetable sector.
The Ghana team will be setting up the learning farm from start to finish, practicing the skills that they’ve learned and developing new ones in the process. With this extra layer of practical experience complete, they will be ready to share their knowledge with smallholder farmers, training them in improved vegetable production techniques and business skills.
To build networks and ensure greater impact, Ghana Knowledge Transfer Manager Jemima Djah has been forging relationships with local officials, allied organizations, and complementary companies, as well as strengthening synergies with East-West Seed. In these efforts, Jemima has been working closely with EWS-KT Program Manager Femke de Jong, who engaged in the groundwork needed to set up EWS-KT operations in the country.
Last month, Jemima, Femke, and the TFOs met with the Municipal Director of Agriculture in Sunyani, Patrick Dela Newman, to introduce him to EWS-KT’s work and the Ghana team members. The meeting also enabled the Ghana team to gain a deeper understanding of how the Ministry of Food and Agriculture operates in the Sunyani area and the services it provides.
Jemima and Femke also recently took part in an agritech horticulture field trip organized by the Dutch Embassy, GNBCC, and the UN International Trade Centre, with the support of East-West Seed and Holland Green Tech. The ultimate goal of the event was to connect tech and horticultural organizations and foster innovation and adoption of digital/tech solutions.
All of these activities are setting the EWS-KT Ghana team up for success when they begin working with smallholder farmers in the Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo regions in the second half of 2023.