CDF Canada’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship Project (4R-NSP) team in Ghana hosted a series of field days on best crop and nutrient management practices, in collaboration with the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI). The main objective of the learning events was to demonstrate the benefits of crop and nutrient management practices employed on the groundnut learning sites to smallholder farmers. Moreover, the activity focused on identifying key constraints limiting smallholder farmers from groundnut production in the four districts of Ghana that are participating in the 4R-NSP Project. The theme for the field-day centered on “4Rs for good groundnut yields” – Right Fertilizer, Right Rate, Right Time and Right Place for good groundnut yield. A total of 838 participants (392 men and 446 women) from 12 communities participated in the learning events. Participants harvested groundnuts from fertilized and non-fertilized fields for comparison. Preliminary data gathered from the field indicated that yield per acre of fertilized groundnuts was approximately 30% higher (1162 kg per acre for fertilized fields vs. 890 kg for non-fertilized fields). Fertilized groundnuts fields had more pegs, higher density of biomass and well-filled pods.
“I did not see much groundnut disease like other farms around. I can also see that the fertilizer applied groundnut looks bigger than the others”, said a co-op farmer from Manchoni, Nanumba North Municipal district, and a participant of the field days.
The field-days were supported by training on agronomic surveys for agriculture extension agents (AEA) from four project participating districts. 32 AEAs received training from SARI on how to administer questionnaires on agronomic practices. The purpose of the training was to equip local AEAs with knowledge on interviewing skills. This will enable them to effectively administer the agronomic survey questionnaires which aim to identify key constraints to cereal and legume crop productivity of smallholder farming systems of northern Ghana.
Training activities for smallholder farmers we enhanced by capacity building in cooperative development. Eighteen communities were sensitized on co-operative principles. The awareness-raising activities aim to strengthen an understanding among family-based farmer co-operative members on the importance of group cohesion and collaboration. A total of 849 smallholder farmers (399 women and 450 men) participated in the sensitization meetings. The team facilitated the election of a five-member executive body for each co-operative to steer the affairs of the group for the next two years. In addition to the sensitization exercise, 9 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) groups were formed in three communities. It is expected that the VSLA groups will serve as a platform for promoting regular group meetings, group mobilization, and mobilization of savings.