Ghana’s new agriculture policy is leaving behind its smallholders

In a recent meeting at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana, we were presented with the designated Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto’s plans for what the new government is going to offer its farmers: Planting for Food and Jobs, a Campaign for Rapid Growth.

The plan makes grand claims to promote growth in food production and create 750,000 new jobs through a focus on five areas: seed, fertilizer, extension services, marketing and e-fertilizer. The growth will come from five main food crops maize, rice, soybean, sorghum and vegetables and in the north of the country where I work, the focus will be entirely on the first three: maize, rice and soy. Notably, yam, millet, livestock and other animals are not included, as well as other natural resources like shea.

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Women’s shea production and processing group, Ghana

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African yam mounds

The campaigns focus on getting every Ghanaian to grow food for the country is reminiscent of the 1970s Operation Feed Yourself policy that focused on Green Revolution development approaches only without the focus on mechanization and a renewed emphasis on seed and fertilizer. A novel feature is that local district assemblies will have a main coordination role alongside the local Ministry of Food and Agriculture units. We will wait to see what support to strengthening local government systems will be provided beyond hiring new extension staff proposed. The National Buffer Stock (NAFCO) will be reinvested in, operating as the market, storage and processing option. We also wait to see if support for operations is budgeted for and not just infrastructure maintenance.

Most worryingly is that the government is only registering ‘lead farmers’ those who have 10 acres or more of one of the targeted crops. In a place where virtually all farmers are smallholders who grow many crops to meet a diverse diet and reduce risk, government extension have expressed concerns about who the government is targeting and how their services will shift. As one extension staff said in the meeting, “I bet we won’t even get up to 100 farmers registered for the entire district”. Since farmers are registered for where they are farming and not where they live, it is likely that most of the farmers registered will not be those in the rural communities, but business men from the city or government staff who have the capital to rent and prepare land, hire labour and access inputs on a medium scale. Moreover, it is likely that women (especially those who do not inherit land) and the ‘teeming youth’ will not have the ten acres needed, leaving them behind.

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The extension staff I work with perceive their jobs to be about developing smallholder livelihoods and rural communities and in the meeting, they began strategizing about how they could register them so they are included. One suggestion was through the registration of groups of smallholders (farming based organizations), like cooperatives where they could aggregate land. But, no, individuals are only allowed. Others suggested registering smallholders with plots next to each other, but under one name. I can’t help but think about the deep mistrust between smallholders and government and the potential community conflict that could arise because smallholders’ land, rented tractors and hired labour are already being monopolized by these business men who can afford to pay more at the necessary time. Now the government is supporting them, not the smallholders.

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This campaign for rapid growth is worrying because where there is rapid growth, there tends to be rapid inequality and rapid environmental degradation. There seems to be a mismatch between what the government, NGOs and the private sector sees as the future of agriculture in Ghana and what smallholders themselves want. Chemical fertilizer for example is being widely adopted by smallholders, and government (with pressure from farmer lobbyists) have subsidized the cost from around 100 GH cedis to 85 GH cedis per 45 kg bag to reduce costs. However, smallholders have issued concerns to me about the impact this fertilizer usage has on soil health and the quality of food produced. Those both near and far away from town are reluctantly adopting fertilizer because of desperation and they perceive themselves as being addicted to these expensive chemicals. The improved, shorter varieties of seed provided produce more in times of erratic rainfall, but the quality of produce and ability to withstand drought is also a problem perceived by smallholders. We will also wait to see what kinds of seeds are encouraged in the future and perhaps the renewal of hybrids and other non-open pollinated varieties smallholders are not willing to adopt will make its way back in the name of growth. Moreover, the focus on e-extension and e-fertilizer was tried and failed last year because of the technical and literacy problems across the country. We await to see what new innovations are provided to combat this.

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After all, it is the medium scale farmer who is willing to invest and depend on these inputs year after year to generate surplus, moving on when the soil is dead, but not the smallholder who needs to think about sustaining her subsistence and existence first – food quality, diversification and environmental sustainability.

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Smallholder farmers in Ghana

Land Grabbing for Agriculture is Causing Conflict in Southern, Sierra Leone

Something I have been hearing about since the day I arrived in Sierra Leone is about the conflict or ‘uneasy calm’ that has arisen from land grabbing for large-scale agriculture by foreign companies. ‘Land grabbing’ simply defined is when governments, banks or private investors buy up huge plots of land to make profits. In the particular case of Sierra Leone an estimated fifth of the country’s arable land has been leased since 2009 to industrial farming, many of them foreign companies producing biofuels from crops, such as oil palm and sugar cane.

On the way to the communities

On the way to the communities

Where I am working there is one particular land grab contract for arguably the largest oil palm plantation in Africa under the company Socfin Agricultural Company Ltd. The local farmers I have been working with in this Chiefdom have explained that this plantation is directly causing uneasiness/conflict, threatening their physical and nutritional security. This report published in 2013 provides evidence towards this ‘uneasy calm’ as a result of the land grab. I had the opportunity to witness this uneasy calm first hand, as I am working alongside three farming based organizations based within two of the communities within the effected Chiefdom.

Socfin Agricultural Company Ltd (SAC)
SOC is part of Belgian Socfin Group. It is leasing 6,500 ha and seeking to lease and plant an additional 5,500 ha with expansion to 30,000 ha in the Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District, Southern Province. This has been sub-leased from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Services for the next 50 years at a rate of US$12.50 per hectare per year for the purpose of oil palm (crude palm oil) and eventually rubber.

There is an estimated 9,000 people effected across 24 communities.

According to SAC its promise to give back to the communities includes three roadwork projects and has built eight water wells, one ambulance, a primary school, some footwear and jerseys for a friendly football match, a generator and paint for the police station outside SAC’s operational area. To date, SAC has no intention of investing in agricultural programmes, nor has it looked at how local people who have lost their livelihood can be compensated.

The palm oil plantation referred to extends for as far as the eye can see

The palm oil plantation referred to extends for as far as the eye can see

Response from smallholder farmers
Farming based organizations (FBOs) I work with have expressed their ambition to build large scale farms to generate profit. No smallholder I have spoken to wishes to remain small scale, but their vision of large scale is something entirely different from a plantation. Many have expressed a desire to cultivate large areas with a range of diverse crops that service different purposes, such as for community/home consumption or for exports. Almost every farming based organization I work alongside is producing food crops for consumption and sale (rice, cassava, vegetables), despite the Ministry’s push for non-consumable commodities (palm oil).

With the situation in Sahn-Malen, people are extremely dissatisfied with the company SAC. SAC’s plantation has resulted in “loss of farm income and produce from the bush and tree-crop areas, the impact on food and nutritional security, new social ills and discord in the communities, and the limited and short-term employment opportunities available with SAC.” There is also dissatisfaction with the wages provided by SAC to those labourers who work on their plantation. Wages of Le 10,000 [about US$2.30] per day cannot compensate them for their lost farm income and produce. Moreover, due to the loss of local food production, the cost of food has risen with the staple, fish for example rising to between 15,000-20,000SL per unit from LE1,000-2000 prior to SAC’s plantation. The qualities of the meals have also deteriorated with cassava and sweet potato meals now missing meat and fish, vegetables (okra, garden eggs), beans and wild fruits resulting in lower nutrition.

Worst of all, the promises made by traditional leaders, politicians, company representatives and respected local people to agree to SAC’s investment have not been met and people are now angry and afraid. Expressions about the land include ‘It is for our children’ and they prefer the ‘freedom’ they enjoy as an autonomous independent farming community not to work under a company as a labourer.

I am meeting with farmers effected by the land grab situation

I am meeting with farmers effected by the land grab situation

Land is the social glue
As the above report rightly claims, land is a kind of social glue. FBOs and their respective communities have developed social groups that work together on communal pieces of land and share the harvests and profits from their sale. Land is the source of rural livelihoods and in Sierra Leone the farming systems and land use patterns are extremely complex, with different land types used for different purposes. Farmers have in the area have asked for my advice on what to do with their business because due to this land grab, there is a shortage of land with the greatest perceived loss being the upland farms, where people cultivate upland rice,
 as well as fruit and medicinal trees.

Now that people’s land have been taken away for palm oil, the sources of livelihoods have changed. The most important sources of income, such as sale of farm produce, value added farm products and farm labour have been either greatly reduced or gone altogether, which makes the work we are doing much more challenging. This lack of income is resulting in higher rates of poverty —the intended opposite effect of business or/ agriculture development. People often express to me that they are having more trouble paying school fees for their children.

It is also impacting the social context with an influx of ‘strangers’ that have moved to their communities to find work – so the assumption that the company is hiring local people is (might) also be false. There is also expressed concern about the potential risk of water contamination from chemical fertilizers and herbicides being used on the plantation.

The above report mentions that SAC’s plantation has resulted in less sharing and trust within the community, increased poverty which is resulting in conflict, teenage pregnancy (as families cannot afford their daughters), increased borrowing and debt, theft, sex work and divorce. There have been multiple murders over the past month, making the place unstable. Staff I work with can no longer travel alone, making service provision that much more difficult to provide and coordinate. After 4pm, people fear any vehicle on the road, and I have witnessed women jumping into the forest as we drove by. To be clear, this is not a security threat to me, as I do not live in the area, but a big challenge to our work, to people’s livelihoods and the well-being of those living in these communities.

Agricultural sector development is meant to improve the wellbeing of its communities. It is supposed to provide strong livelihoods, competitive markets, food and nutrition and all of the other benefits that come with development NOT instability, fear, mistrust, poverty, and violence.

Sources
Christian Aid (2013). ‘Who is Benefitting?’ Found at: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/who-is-benefitting-Sierra-Leone-report.pdf

Grain. (2014) Sierra Leone farmers reject land grab for oil palm plantation. Found at: http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4849-sierra-leone-farmers-reject-land-grab-for-oil-palm-plantation

The Varied Roles of Extension Services Provided to Farmer Organizations for Food Security

It is official, I am moving to Pujehun district located in southern, Sierra Leone for a few months. I will be consulting on a project that aims to improve the food security of people living in poor, rural communities in West African countries to ensure that they have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.

I will be consulting on one part of the overall system to contribute to,
a) Increasing the effectiveness and use of agricultural extension services (government, NGO) by training extension staff in planning, implementing, and monitoring and,
b) Provide business support services to farmer organizations, and strengthen them for the adoption of good agricultural and livelihood practices.

Here, I want to explain the value farmer organizations have for food security and the importance of the different roles extension services have.

Why Agricultural Extension?

Agricultural extension historically has been about technology transfer, through an extension staff transferring knowledge from research stations to farmers by using individual, group, and mass media methods. Farmers gain this knowledge and improve their practices to produce greater yields. The obvious link between this to food security is: an improved and greater yield of food crops, such as rice leads to more food available.

However, making more food available in communities is only one part of the food security story. Mostly because you cannot grow everything you wish to eat. Also, there is often times enough food available, but the most hungry cannot access it. Food can be inaccessible because of,
•Poor infrastructure & natural disasters (I cannot physically get to the markets where food is sold);
•Food is too expensive (I cannot afford / have the cash to buy food);
•Social/cultural norms (I cannot leave the house alone or I can only interact with certain actors in certain markets);
•Violence and corruption (I do not feel safe when buying food because of potential threats from others);
•Poor health systems (I am too sick to get food and process it);
•Lack of information (I do not know where or when the food is sold or what the standards/rules are);
•Inadequate support institutions (I do not have the capital needed etc.)
Source: Angela Mwaniki, ‘Achieving Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Issues’

The goal of improving productive yields is only one dimension of food security. I would argue, more importantly, access to food, varied markets (not just food markets, but also agricultural markets) and overall livelihood development (employment generally) is critical for food security. Bearing in mind the issue of nutrition is much more complex as this requires improved health, water and sanitation systems beyond agriculture or livelihoods.

More recently, agricultural extension has varied roles to improve availability and access to food, markets and overall livelihood development. Some of the roles include,
Human Resource and Empowerment role: help farmers and rural communities organize themselves and take charge (empowerment) of their growth and development.
Community-Organizing role: understanding the structures, by-laws, rules will help leaders to plan, implement, and monitor their own livelihoods. Helping communities to build, develop, and increase their power through cooperation, sharing, and working together to negotiate and interact with other markets.
Problem-Solving and Education role: helping farmers and their communities to identify problems and seek the right solutions by combining their indigenous knowledge with other knowledge and by using their resources properly.
• And most commonly…Technology Development role: by linking research with community group needs and helping to facilitate appropriate technology development
Source: Shankariah Chamala and P. M. Shingi. FAO. Chapter 21 “Establishing and strengthening farmer organizations” in Improving Agricultural Extension. A Reference Manuel

Extension staff learning from farmers about their technology, not just the other way around

Extension staff learning from farmers about their technology, not just the other way around

Rice Sheller - simple technology, but critical for agribusiness development

Rice Sheller – simple technology, but critical for agribusiness development

Why Farmer Organizations?

Farmer organizations give farmers bargaining power in the market place, enable cost-effective delivery of extension services, and provide a space for empowered members to influence policies that affect their livelihoods. Private sector organizations establish farmer organizations to reduce the cost of dealing with farmers, enhance the volume and quality of farm produce, and improve credit recovery from farmers. Governments establish farmer organizations to improve rural service delivery. National policies aimed to help rural people become organized even provided blueprint structures in the form of cooperatives and commodity organizations.

Problematically however, extension staffs traditionally have never had training in the theory and principles of community organization or skills in the process of establishing these organizations. As a result, many farmer organizations were established overnight on paper and remained only active during the period that government subsidies were distributed and not beyond this. Today, the elite tend to capture the services and resources, while the poor and marginalized are left out. Very few attempts are made to develop the management capacities of farmer organizations leaders, their members, and extension staff. This is where my work comes in.
Source: Wilhemina, Quaye; Ivy, Yawson; Tawiah, Manful John; Joseph, Gayin. (2010) ‘Building the Capacity of Farmer Based Organisation for Sustainable Rice Farming in Northern Ghana’ Journal of Agricultural Science 2.1 :93-106.
Source: Salifu, A., Lee Funk, R., Keefe, M., and Kolavalli, S. (2012) ‘Farmer Based Organizations in Ghana’ Ghana Strategy Support Program. IFPRI Working Paper 31. August

Extension Staff & Farmer Group Training Session

Extension Staff & Farmers Training Session, where everyone role plays being a women in a women’s farming organization. I made the real life female farmers the decision makers for 2.5 hours and you should hear them challenge others and make difficult decisions for planning a business!

Rural bank account application example

Rural bank account application example

What I hope to Accomplish

My aims are to build the capacities of farmer organizations: rice farmers can actively create cooperatives, partnerships and mobilize local resources independently.

I also hope to strengthen the varied roles agricultural extension staff have in strengthening the potential for community empowerment, human resources and problem solving. I will be training extension staff in modernized techniques for engaging with farmer organizations that are based on learning by doing, visual educational techniques, and participatory action and facilitation. This includes understanding the rules and governance structures needed for sustainable and functional collective action through farmer organizations.

Why In Sierra Leone?

When people think of Sierra Leone, the not so comforting images of Blood Diamond spring to mind (where Leonardo Di Caprio was heard coining the term TIA –This Is Africa- remember?). But it has been 10 years since the end of the civil war, and the country has made progress. This is why the Government’s focus has shifted towards agricultural sector development. In 2010, the Smallholder Commercialization Program was launched to support smallholder farmers’ linkages to markets through farmer organizations, subsidized inputs and infrastructure rehabilitation. Rain-fed upland rice dominates food supply and tree crops supply the bulk of Sierra Leone’s agricultural exports and domestic palm oil consumption, but many trees were destroyed during the war.

This agricultural focus has come out of the destruction from the civil war when significant proportion of the rural population became marginalized from productive land. Institutional structures were destroyed, including much of the road networks, input materials etc. It is hard to imagine a place with no national water supply, sewage system or electricity grid, where everything runs on a generator, but that is Sierra Leone today.

I have had the opportunity to travel to meet the staff in Sierra Leone for initial needs assessment. I was amongst several organizations that pitched different tools for change and it was what I had to offer that the staff opted in for and thought was worth investing in. I will keep you posted on any progress made.
Source: Binns, T., and Maconachie, R. (2005) ‘Going Home in Postconfilct Sierra Leone’. Geography 90. 1: 67-78.

Project Staff & Farmer Group Representatives

Project Staff & Farmer Group Representatives

Smart Interventions for Food Security in Africa

This post is dedicated to World Food Day and written for Blog Action Day (#bad11), a movement that aims to start a global discussion through thousands of blogs posts. This year’s topic is everything FOOD related!

Here is my contribution to the global discussion:

Over the next 40 years, agriculture will have to carry out an enormous task:

* feeding an extra three billion mouths as global population rises from six to nine billion;
* feeding the 854 million human beings who now suffer hunger and malnutrition. (FAO).

Food security is a situation in which all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active healthy life (El-Hage Scialabba, Page 2). The security of food is affected by a number of factors, including an unstable social and political environment that preclude sustainable economic growth, war and civil strive, macroeconomic imbalances in trade, natural resource constraints, poor human resource base, gender inequality, inadequate education, poor health, natural disasters, such as floods and locust infestation, and the absence of good governance. All these factors contribute to either insufficient national food availability or insufficient access to food by households and individuals.

The root cause of food insecurity in developing countries is the inability of people to gain access to food due to poverty. Seventy-five percent of the world’s 1.2 billion poor live in rural areas of developing countries (Mwaniki, Page 3). They suffer from problems associated with subsistence production in isolated and marginal locations with low levels of technology. These subsistence and livelihood systems are risk-prone to drought and floods, crop and animal diseases, and market shocks. Sub-Sahara Africa remains the most food insecure region in the world, with 206 million hungry people. The share of hungry people declined from 35 to 32 percent during the last decade (El-Hage Scialabba, Page 3).

Flooded Crops due to Unpredictable Rains

Over seventy percent of the food insecure population in Africa lives in the rural areas. Ironically, smallholder farmers, the producers of over 90 percent of the continent’s food supply, make up the majority (50 percent) of this population. In countries where more than 34 percent of the population is undernourished, agriculture represents 30 percent of GDP and nearly 70 percent of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihood (Mwaniki, Pages 4-7).

Taken from the Nadia El-Hage Scialabba Report entitled “Can Africa Feed Itself?”

An Underdeveloped Agricultural Sector in Africa

A major challenge to food security in Africa is its underdeveloped agricultural sector that is characterized by over-reliance on primary agriculture, low fertility soils, minimal use of external farm inputs, environmental degradation, significant food crop loss both pre- and post- harvest, minimal value addition and product differentiation, and inadequate food storage an preservation that result in significant commodity price fluctuation (El-Hage Scialabba, Page 7). Ninety five percent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa is grown under rain fed agriculture (Mwaniki, Pages 7). Making food production vulnerable to adverse weather conditions. There is an overall decline in farm input investment including fertilizers, seeds, and technology adoption. Moreover, the soils continue to degrade leading to a reduction in the productivity of the farms.

Case Study: Ghana’s Agricultural Sector

Ghana faces the challenge of making substantial progress in food security because average yields over the years have remained stagnant. Commercial food imports and food aid have constituted about 4.7 per cent of food needs in the last fifteen years (FASDEP II). Rainfall is a major determinant in the annual fluctuations of household and national food output. This creates food insecurity at household levels, which can be transitory in poor communities and chronic in distressed areas.

Ghanaian farmer participating in National Level Programs

While Ghana can be classified as generally food secure, food-insecure populations exist in all regions because of resource limitations and lack of alternative livelihood opportunities. Malnutrition is a serious problem among children, adolescents and pregnant women due to insufficient levels of food intake and or diets not providing an adequate nutritional intake. Results from the 2003 Ghana Demographic Health Survey (GDHS) indicate that malnutrition contributes 40% to mortality among children less than 5 years. In spite of the improvements the rate of wasting is 3.5 times that expected in a healthy population while the proportion of under-weight children is 11 times the level expected in a well nourished population (FASDEP II).

In high population density areas, such as the Upper East Region, the situation is cyclical and severe for three to five months each year (FASDEP II). There are regional disparities in food insecurity due to seasonal food deficits in the three northern regions.

Near Bolga, Upper East Region, Ghana

For most households, hunger is frequently associated with poor harvests resulting from environmental degradation, poor weather, natural disasters, or conflict. Gender is also an important dimension of poverty, especially in northern Ghana where there is a sharp disparity between the income-earning opportunities of women and men.

Although the objective of attaining food security in Ghana is national, it is the poor that are the most vulnerable to food insecurity.

Food Security Interventions in Ghana

How can Ghana achieve food security? The solution lies in increasing food availability, food access and food adequacy for all. Because the food insecurity in Africa is directly correlated with poverty, it is necessary to not only alleviate poverty, but also create wealth for the target population.

The national vision for the food and agriculture sector in Ghana is modernised agriculture culminating in a structurally transformed economy that is evident in food security, employment opportunities and reduced poverty. In 2002, member countries of the African Union (AU) pledged to allocate at least 10 per cent of national budgetary resources for implementation of CAADP’s seven part vision for modernised agriculture (FASDEP II). The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has, in turn, developed an ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) to address food security in the sub-region in conformity with existing regional and international commitments. Programme objectives include increased food production and income generation, increased inter-country trade, strengthened producers’ organisations and greater involvement of women in socio-economic decisions that affect household livelihood opportunities (FASDEP II).

The broad national strategy for the attainment of food security is to focus at the national and agro-ecological levels on the development of at most five staple crops (maize, rice, yam, cassava and cowpea) (FASDEP II). The commodities will receive support in terms of irrigation and sustainable management of land, improved planting materials, and appropriate mechanisation, to enhance productivity along the whole value chain.

The specific strategies for the attainment of food security and emergency preparedness are:
• Develop appropriate irrigation schemes for different categories of farmers to ensure production throughout the year.
• Introduce high-yielding and short-duration crops varieties.
• Develop effective post-harvest management strategies, particularly storage facilities, at individual and community levels.
• Liaise with the Ministry of Transportation for road transport and the Ministry of Harbours and Railways to improve accessibility and facilitate the distribution of crops.
• Target the vulnerable in agriculture, with special programmes that will enhance their diversification opportunities, reduce risk and enhance their access to productive resources.
• Enhance nutrition through coordination of programmes and institutions for food security, dissemination of nutrition and health information, and advocacy for food fortification.
• Strengthen early warning systems and put in place emergency preparedness and disaster management scheme, including contingency planning to ensure access of the poor to food during disasters.
• Establish strategic stocks to support emergency preparedness.
• Advocate for improved legal and policy frameworks for collaboration between institutions responsible for disaster management.

One half of rice farm the farmers did not adopt current technology – Damongo, Ghana

For this reason, coordination role of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) as the lead agency for the development of the sector will be central in the implementation of policies. Greater devolution of responsibilities to the regional and district levels will also be pursued. MOFA defines food security as “good quality nutritious food, hygienically packaged and attractively presented, available in sufficient quantities all year round and located at the appropriate places at affordable prices” (FASDEP II). The element of food safety will be a concern in Ghana’s pursuit of food security.

Engineers Without Border’s (EWB) Interventions – How I am working towards food security in Ghana

A recent study of extension practices and adoption of agricultural technologies across Ghana revealed that while the vast majority of farmers (over 90%) may be aware of modernised technologies, actual adoption rates are still relatively low (Kwarteng et al., Page 3). This correlates well with our own observations from spending time working in district Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) offices. The same study also concludes that farmers receive the majority of their agricultural knowledge from MOFA’s Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) with secondary learning from fellow farmers (Kwarteng et al.). This suggests the main problem we should be tackling relates to actual adoption strategies as opposed to the spread of technical information.

Getting my hands dirty with roots and tubers – preparing for yam minisetts

By better understanding the question of why farmers adopt certain technologies and taking a farmer-first approach we hope to influence MOFA’s ability in how they promote them to benefit the farmers’s yields for the reduction of poverty and security of food.

How we will do this:

• We’ll use the McKinsey Influence Model to target and organize our learning:

• We’ll combine our own observations from the field, knowledge gained from other EWB teams and partners, and published literature to ensure a broad perspective in our understanding.
• We’ll keep in mind the social or other ‘irrational’ factors that may limit the spread of technologies and not solely focus on the rational farmer model.

Our current prototypes and what they are influencing:
– Using videos to market technologies: Conviction
– Using pictorial contracts to increase in-kind payments: Understanding
– Testing peer-to-peer farmer learning: Legitimacy
– Testing demand driven extension systems: Relevance and conviction
– Testing a contact farmer assessment tool: Ineffective use of resources

One day I will learn how to drive one – it is not currently the right season

From previous experience, we know how difficult it is to scale up a project within the MOFA system, but we are collaborating and experimenting with staff to see what innovations are going to work in the long term.

Conclusion – How does this relate to food security?

MOFA is a major player in the implementation of national level policy through district activities and projects. We believe that improving the service provision of the Ministry through participatory capacity building and acting as an advocate for farmers’ perspective are necessary factors for food security. Our mission is to bring a farmer-first approach to extension services that are meant to progress the technology adoption rates of farmers. The research has concluded that the extension is doing a sufficient job in disseminating information, as the majority of farmers are aware of new technologies, however where they are failing is in the understanding or conviction and reinforcement mechanisms needed in order for farmers to adopt the new technologies. Improved agricultural practices are often the biggest step to improving farmer yields necessary for food security and poverty reduction. Ensuring farmers are actively partaking in these technologies also means a modernised agriculture sector.

References

El-Hage Scialabba, Nadia. Can Africa Feed Itself?: Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Romem Italy. June 6-7, 2007.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. How to Feed the World in 2050.

Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II). Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Republic of Ghana. August 2007.

Kwarteng et al., Extension Access and Adoption of Improved Technologies. 2010.

Mwaniki, Angela. Achieving Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Issues. Office of the Special Adviser on Africa United Nations. June 2005.

Technology Adoption Strategy. Engineers Without Borders Canada. August 2011.