In the vibrant fields of Ghana, where the earth meets the sky, a remarkable story is unfolding – a story of triumph over challenges and the dawn of new possibilities for smallholder farmers in Ghana. Farmers dedicate themselves to the soil, striving to yield bountiful harvests. Yet, they face an array of constraints: limited labour, financial hurdles, and lack of technology. These challenges formed the backdrop of their daily lives, creating a sense of drudgery and exhaustion.
Amidst these challenges, a beacon of hope emerged: the “4R Nutrient Stewardship project.” This initiative was not just a solution; it was a promise of transformation. Through sustainable agricultural practices, a world of possibilities unfolded for these farmers. Smallholder farmers were introduced to practices that hold the power to revolutionize yields. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship project, now in its fifth year, embarked on a journey of change across 130 communities in the Northern and Savannah regions of Ghana.
The project introduced farmers to the 4R approach – a compass that guides them towards climate-smart sustainable agriculture. Concepts like row planting became second nature, while practices like dibbling and burying fertilizers brought forth a newfound efficiency. In its second year, the project introduced small modern technologies, such as planters, motor tricycles, solar knapsacks, trapaulins amongst others at a subsidized fee, reducing the burden of labour and promising higher yields.
Kito Kwanta, is a beneficiary community of the 4R initiative. Here, the project facilitated the formation of farmer co-operatives to enrich their socio-economic well-being. The co-operative, after seeing the benefit of row planting, ventured into acquiring two row planters at a subsidized fee through linkage by the project. They used their social fund from their Village Savings Loans Association (VSLA) contributions to transform a vision into reality. The smiles on their faces as they acquired these tools spoke volumes.
Though the planter’s arrival was late in the planting season, it managed to serve 15 co-operative members across 21-acres. The impact was not just measured in numbers; it was felt in the creation of employment opportunities. Two individuals found meaningful roles as operators during this planting season. The group charges CAD$5.97 for co-operative members per acre and CAD$ 11.59 for non-co-operative members.
Through the project’s guidance, the co-operative initiated group farms and seed farms, cultivating climate smart seed varieties. These seeds of change are being nurtured under the watchful eyes of heritage seed and PPRSD at the Department of Agriculture.
Speaking to members of the co-operative, the excitement is infectious. The co-operative’s chairman reminisces about the past struggles of labour shortages and late planting. Thanks to the planter, four days of evenings were enough to plant an entire 20-acre soybean field.
The operator, Uwakpadaan Effe, adds another layer to the story.
“In the past, children played a role in planting, resulting in inconsistent growth. But with the planter, the story has changed. The fields are now a canvas of consistent growth and promise,” he said.
“For the planter isn’t just about efficiency; it’s about easing the load on us women who juggle home and field responsibilities. The planter has helped us a lot, I planted my one- acre field in just one day, and I think the CAD $ 5.97 charge is very reasonable.”
NbeininyiNimor, Co-operative Member
Paapa Nkuubi, a farmer, sums up beautifully that: “The machine is very efficient.” He compares days of labour with his family to a single evening of planting, highlighting not just the speed but the uniformity it brings to the field.
The story of smallholder farmers in Ghana isn’t just about toil; it’s about transformation. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship project is painting a new narrative – one that’s bursting with possibilities, growth, and community. This paints a portrait of progress – a progress that’s been cultivated through unity, innovation, and the unwavering spirit of those who believe in a better agricultural future.