Ghana Welcomes Leaders from East-West Seed and EWS-KT
The East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation team in Ghana was proud to welcome several visitors last week, including East-West Seed CEO JC Filippi, East-West Seed COO Dilip Rajan, and EWS-KT Director Stuart Morris.
Ghana is a new country for EWS-KT, with operations based in Sunyani, the capital of the Bono region. Led by Knowledge Transfer Manager Jemima Djah, the EWS-KT Ghana team has been undergoing extensive training in the last few months, using a “learning by doing” approach. As part of this process, they have conducted a baseline survey and built community connections, and they are currently setting up a learning farm to showcase improved vegetable farming techniques.
Talking with Farmers in the Sunyani Area
On 20 July, after visiting agro-input shops and engaging with sellers in the local vegetable market, the East-West Seed and EWS-KT delegations headed to the field to meet two farmers. Both farmers attended the mini Field Day at the EWS-KT learning farm on 5 July and are interested in exploring how they can improve their yields through new practices.
Ataah Awuni: Cabbage farming in Kotokrom
The first farmer they visited, Ataah Awuni, has over 30 years of farming under his belt. Originally a tomato farmer, he made a strategic shift to cabbage due to market dynamics. Over the years, he has honed his expertise, and now his vegetable farming venture is flourishing.
Despite his significant success, Ataah acknowledges some challenges. Poultry manure, which is an essential resource for his crops, has become expensive and scarce. He also noted that excessive rainfall can lead to fungal infections on his cabbage leaves. Strategies to reduce costs while maximizing yields would also be welcome.
In coordination with EWS-KT staff, Ataah is planning to set aside a small section of his land in the upcoming months as a demonstration plot for implementing new techniques. Raised beds and mulch, for instance, help prevent water damage, minimize pests and diseases, and keep nutrients from washing away. Planting cabbages in a zig-zag pattern rather than in straight lines enables the plants to grow more freely and develop healthy, large heads. With his demonstration plot, Ataah will be able to see the differences in results between EWS-KT recommended methods and his current farming practices.
Victor Gyamfi: Eggplant farming in Abesim
Victor Gyamfi bases his crop choices on seasonal market demands. In the months of July, August, and September, eggplant prices are favorable, encouraging him to focus on this crop. After harvesting the eggplants, he grows cabbage, as there is high demand for cabbage between September and December. He sells his produce in large bags to distributors and is making a good profit.
When he visited the learning farm on 5 July, Victor was particularly intrigued by the raised beds. His farm is on a slope, so adopting raised beds could improve the quality of his land and his subsequent yields. Another area where Victor recognizes room for improvement is in record-keeping. He does not currently keep records of the seeds he uses or the types of fertilizers applied. Along with improved agricultural practices, EWS-KT teaches farmers about crop planning and maintaining farm records, which can aid in better decision-making and enhance overall farm management.
Like Ataah, Victor is planning to work with EWS-KT to set up a demonstration plot where he can practice new techniques like raised beds.
Even for experienced farmers, EWS-KT has much to offer. While these two farmers are both successful in their chosen profession, they can still benefit from the improved techniques and strategic farm management methods that the EWS-KT Ghana team will soon be sharing with farmers in the Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo regions.
Touring the EWS-KT Learning Farm
Next up for the East-West Seed and EWS-KT delegations was a tour of the newly constructed learning farm in Abesim. EWS-KT Director Stuart Morris last visited Ghana in May, just days before the EWS-KT team broke ground on the learning farm, and he was very excited to see the transformation.
The learning farm has seven crops—cabbage, eggplant, tomato, sweet corn, onion, hot pepper, and cucumber—and showcases many techniques. As the visitors toured the learning farm, different members of the EWS-KT Ghana team briefed them on the techniques demonstrated at each stop.
Ghana team members talked about estimating the right height for the beds, and how planting on raised beds helps to protect plants from rain, erosion, and flooding damage, as well as soil compaction. They described the different types of mulch being used—plastic sheet, cocoa leaves, maize leaves, and rice straw—and how well these are able to retain moisture in the soil and inhibit weed growth.
At the seedling production station, the Ghana staff spoke about using heat to sterilize the soil, which kills germs and makes it more difficult for soil-borne diseases to get established.
By the seedling house, they showed the visitors the dark chamber, used for faster germination; the seedling house itself; and the ground nursery—a more basic alternative where seeds are sown directly in the ground rather than in seed trays or leaf pots.
Discussions were also had around different ways to support tomato plants and other practices displayed at the learning farm.
At the end of the learning farm visit, the East-West Seed CEO and COO expressed how impressed they were with all the EWS-KT Ghana team has done in just a few months—and they noted that they look forward to even greater accomplishments as the team embarks on farmer training in the coming months.