Across Africa, small-scale farmers produce as much as 80% of their countries’ food supplies. But farmers are often the most vulnerable to hunger.
This is the case in Ghana. While farmers are the first link in the agricultural value chain, they are often underpaid or taken advantage of when they sell their produce. Agriculture is the largest employer and the biggest sector of the Ghanaian economy, accounting for about one-third of the country’s GDP. So the issue is an important one.
Farm Radio International, with support from Global Affairs Canada, has been working in Ghana’s Northern and Upper East regions to broadcast programs about cowpea and guinea fowl production since March 2015. Four radio stations—Might FM, Radio Upper West, Radio Progress, and URA Radio—have been involved in the project, and have reached more than a million farmers.
The radio stations are discussing production as well as the best ways to add value to cowpea and guinea fowl by airing Participatory Radio Campaigns and programs called Radio Marketplace. The weekly broadcasts share information on production, post-harvest practices, and market services. The market programs help farmers obtain the best price for their produce.
A half dozen interviews from a recent documentary demonstrate the success of the project in improving the productivity and food security of farmers in Ghana.
Ramatu Yussif is a 34-year-old farmer in northern Ghana who farms two acres of land. She says: “Before the program, I did not know how to apply the seeds and how to do the germination test. Now I know that if you test 10 seeds and at least six to eight germinate, they are good seeds. Otherwise, they are bad.”
Mrs. Yussif also learned how to prepare her land, including using a rope and stick to ensure she sows seed in a straight line and with the correct spacing.
She is also using PICS triple bags to store her harvested cowpea. Good storage is important to ensure farmers do not lose out on profits due to spoiled cowpeas. Mrs. Yussif explains, “The PICS bag is two layers of rubber bag in[side] a sack. This keeps the air, animals, and bacteria out.”
Abdul Karim Ayuba is 20 years old and Abdulai Mahama Abu is 40. Both are cowpea farmers. Mr. Ayuba learned from other people in his community who listened to the program. He used to harvest five to six bags of cowpea from his land, but has now tripled his harvest. Mr. Abu participated in the program directly by calling in to Might FM. He says: “I have listened to the programs from Might FM and Farm Radio International. I called in sometimes to answer questions or added some instructions to them. I asked some questions on what I didn’t understand.”
Albert Asorigiya is a 50-year-old guinea fowl farmer. He recently won the best farmer award in his region. He has benefited from the radio program, and has also contributed expert advice from his own experience. He says, “Any time the program is on, I call to explain my experience, what I do to get a good number of guinea fowl.”
The guinea fowl program discussed how to feed guinea fowl, administer veterinary drugs, keep the birds clean, and build housing. It also included marketing information. Mr. Asorigiya says his brood will increase this year and next with the new information he has learned.
Sampobile Sapake also rears guinea fowl. She says she has learned how to take care of the guinea fowl and provide medications to prevent illness. The income she earns from her guinea fowl enables her to contribute to paying school fees and other expenses, which her husband’s income had barely covered.
The radio programs have helped Ghanaian farmers to increase their productivity and food security. Because cowpea and guinea fowl are good sources of protein, the program is also helping to address health issues.
This story is based on a blog post and video produced by Farm Radio International. To watch the video, go to: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2017/02/21/video-radio-farmer-value-chain-development-ghana/