New Project to Build Farmers’ Capacity Begins in Ghana
BONO REGION, GHANA – At the beginning of November, East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT) Ghana began working directly with farmers in the field as part of the Transforming Vegetable Farming as a Business project, co-funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra.
This project aims to build the technical and business capacity of 11,880 farmers in Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo regions to profitably grow and market vegetables using better seed and sustainable farming practices. Through showcasing better yields and solid economic evidence on the benefits of using better seed and improved farming practices, the project will position vegetables as an attractive business opportunity for smallholder farmers, thereby catalyzing the development of a competitive agro-input market.
By November, the Technical Field Officers (TFOs) at EWS-KT Ghana had been preparing for this moment for 6 months—completing comprehensive training in vegetable cultivation, outreach and teaching methods, and farm economics and business planning, as well as gaining extensive practical experience by establishing a sizable learning farm in Abesim for farmers and other agriculture sector professionals.
During this time, the TFOs had also been meeting area farmers—conducting interviews as part of a baseline survey and providing tours of the learning farm. But now it was time to focus on building the capacity of smallholder farmers.
Launching the Transforming Vegetable Farming as a Business Project
In the last few weeks, the TFOs have introduced themselves and EWS-KT to different communities in the Sunyani East, Sunyani West, and Berekum East districts of the Bono region, showing farmers some of the innovative methods EWS-KT shares and explaining the requirements for becoming a key farmer.
Working with the key farmers, the TFOs have already set up 30 demonstration sites to showcase advanced vegetable farming techniques. The demo sites serve as training hubs for the community, and nearly 400 farmers have successfully participated in on-field training sessions led by the TFOs.
Most training has focused on the early stages of vegetable production:
- Farm planning, including selecting a crop and variety, and choosing appropriate land for the crop
- Site preparation, including clearing the land, creating raised beds, and utilizing mulch and trellising
- Healthy seedling production, including creating ground nurseries, preparing seedling medium, growing seedlings in leaf pots and in seed trays, and protecting the seedlings
As the season progresses, the TFOs will guide farmers through transplanting, crop maintenance, pest and disease management, connecting with buyers, and harvesting and post-harvest handling. By the end of this year, the goal is to reach 700 to 1,000 farmers in the three districts.
To attract more women and youth to vegetable farming, EWS-KT Ghana will be offering an award to the best female farmer and the best youth farmer of the year, in addition to an overall best farmer award. These awards will also serve to increase public awareness of EWS-KT’s work and the services available to area farmers as we scale up knowledge transfer activities in the country.
Training of Trainers Expands Field Officers’ Knowledge
In addition to training farmers, EWS-KT Ghana is sharing knowledge with extension agents and other agriculture sector professionals. On 17 November, EWS-KT Ghana held a training of trainers on crop selection and seedling production in Biadan for Berekum East Municipal agriculture officers. The training session was attended by the Berekum East Deputy Agriculture Director, Field Officers, and National Service Personnel new trainers.
Among the subjects covered were biotic and abiotic factors to consider in selecting a crop, how to choose a field suitable for vegetable production, and how to raise good seedlings. The leaf pot for growing seedlings was one of the new innovations that received a lot of attention from the participants. The training of trainers included both theoretical knowledge and practical application, with a ground nursery for cabbage established during the session. This event was aimed at providing these field trainers with advanced agricultural skills to enhance the services they deliver in their operational areas.
Our work in Ghana is just beginning, and we look forward to equipping many more farmers and others in the agriculture field with the skills and knowledge to thrive through vegetable cultivation.