Ghana: Farmers reap results from radio program on cashews (by Janelle Meager, for Farm Radio Weekly)

| August 5, 2013

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Adu Agi Trun increased his cashew yield by two-thirds after listening to the radio. The 53-year-old farms in the Berekum District of western Ghana, about 350 kilometres from the capital, Accra. He heard about new farming methods from the “Cashew hour” program on his local radio station.

The information he heard helped him harvest 25 one hundred-kilogram bags this year, up from 15 last year. Mr. Trun plans to use the profits from the bumper harvest to expand his farm and plant more crops next season.

Farmers across the Brong Ahafo Region improved harvests of the popular nut after listening to a series of radio programs. The shows were aired between January and June 2013 by two radio stations, BAR FM and Royal FM.

The series was developed by Farm Radio International and funded by the African Cashew Initiative.

Mr. Trun used to plant seeds he had grown on his own farm, but learned how to use grafted seedlings available from a local nursery. He also learned about the ideal spacing between seeds when planting, and now sprays his plantation with pesticides recommended by the programs. He says, “Next season I would like to introduce the local red ant to control pests on trees.”

Mr. Trun enjoyed “Cashew hour,” and would like it to be broadcast year-round.

Fellow “Cashew hour” listener, Abdulair Kwaho, gained new knowledge on soil types, cultivation, harvesting and storage. He also discovered that keeping bees boosts his harvest. He says, “I will start with the bees this year. Pollination is beneficial [for the cashew trees, and] you can sell honey.”

He has also learned to dry his harvest in the shade rather than in direct sunlight, which prevents his cashews from being spoiled.

Kawku Adu listened to the “Cashew hour” program on Royal FM. He says: “First we thought that planting more trees would make you harvest more nuts, but [I discovered] that if there is more air and space in the farm, [you] harvest more nuts.” He also learned to maintain a fire break to protect his investment from bushfires.

After listening to “Cashew hour,” 37-year-old Ofori Adeka Giabon chose to plant a variety that yields more fruit than his current stock, and has improved his farm maintenance.

Mr. Giabon also improved his harvest by pruning his cashew trees.  He used to harvest seven bags on his one-and-a-half acre farm. This year, he harvested almost 20 bags.

Mr. Giabon learned from the program to spray and weed his cashews at least twice a year. He used to leave his farm for up to two years before weeding.

The farmers said that they would like future episodes to broadcast more information on market prices, and how to form groups to get a higher price for their crops.

Both radio stations are interested in renewing the Cashew hour program. Abubakari Sadik is a presenter on BAR FM. He says, “It is our duty of care to continue the program. This show has become an important platform for farmers … it helps to empower them.”