Memunata Abdulai opens the door to a small warehouse. Inside are dozens of stuffed bags of maize in neatly stacked rows. The 45-year-old lives in Nyame Bekyere, a farming community in the Ashanti Region of central Ghana, where maize is grown in abundance.
The warehouse is solidly constructed. Layers of wooden panels on the outside protect the maize from rain or sun. Inside, wooden pallets on the floor keep the sacks off the ground and allow proper ventilation.
Mrs. Abdulai hasn’t always stored her maize like this. It was only after listening to radio programs on Jerryson FM and Akyeaa FM that she decided to build the warehouse.
Augustus Addai is the main resource person for the radio show on Akyeaa FM. He works for the department of agriculture and is in charge of crop development in the Nkoranza South municipality—where the radio station broadcasts from.
Mr. Addai says it’s important to learn how to properly store maize. He explains, “If farmers can store their produce for some time, it can ensure food security. Farmers can get a better price for their produce than if it is sold right after harvest.”
By properly storing maize, farmers can sell it when the demand—and prices—are higher.
Before listening to the radio programs, Mrs. Abdulai stored her maize in any room she had available, whether it was dirty or not. She says, “Before you knew it, it was infected with aflatoxin or other things.”
With this in mind, Mrs. Abdulai listened closely to the radio programs. She learned that she should use a warehouse, arrange it so that air can circulate, and that she should keep it clean.
Now her maize stays unspoiled and the quality fetches a good price at the market. In the past, if the market price was 100 Ghana cedis ($25 US) for a 110-kg sack of maize, buyers would offer only 80 ($20 US) or even 50 cedis ($12 US) for one of Mrs. Abdulai’s bags. After she built the warehouse, buyers are paying Mrs. Abdulai the market price, sometimes offering as much as 150 cedis ($38 US) per bag. She says, “I get exactly what I want, and it is increasing my profit.”
Proper maize storage is not the only thing Mrs. Abdulai learned. She also planted the improved seeds promoted on the program, and applies fertilizer at the right time. Before the program’s help, Mrs. Abdulai harvested five bags per acre on her five-acre farm. Thanks to the changes, she now gets 15 to 20 bags per acre.
Mrs. Abdulai hopes that others in the area will soon see the same benefits. She says: “Whenever I meet a friend of mine who has listened to the radio program, I tell them to take it seriously because it will help them in the future. The way I have embraced it and it has helped me—if my friends also embrace it, it will also help them.”
Photo credit: Tara Sprickerhoff