Ghana – Horticultural
Strengthen the Impact of Horticulture on Social Development in Ghana
Agricultural Institute of Canada
Canadian Society for Horticultural Science
Ghana Institute of Horticulturists
Canada Coordinators – Josée Owen (lead), Dr. Merv Pritchard, Dinah Ceplis, Dr. Mary Ruth MacDonald
Ghana Coordinators – Patrick Kumah (lead), Gustav Mahunu, Irene Idun, Abdul-Halim Abubakari
- A new stage of a continuing project that will strengthen the institutional capacity of GhIH to serve as a credible authority for the promotion and development of horticulture as an important sector in the economy of Ghana.
- Build capacity of farmers and improve their competitiveness in the vegetable value chain through farmer field schools and Training of Trainers workshops.
- Enhance food and nutrition security by introducing orange sweet potato production as an intervention to perennial household food shortages.
- Increase the participation of women in GhIH and strengthen the leadership role of women at the vegetable production sites.
- Support studies to determine the effect that HIV/AIDS is having on the agricultural productivity of the target villages.
Geographic Focus Area: Upper West Region
A partnership between GhIH and CSHS was established in 2001 with the initiation of a project that had two major goals: 1) strengthen the capacity of GhIH to serve as the key organization in Ghana with expertise in the development of the horticulture industry and, 2) enhance the production of vegetables using irrigation with water from three newly rehabilitated dams (Busa, Karni and Babile) and hand-dug wells in Nandom to increase the availability of more nutritious food and supplement incomes of villagers in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The Project has now been extended to Piina and Behii.
During the first phase of this project, several objectives were achieved and many valuable lessons were learned. GhIH established a working model to move the profession forward by providing professional development opportunities and services for its members. Membership of GhIH increased from all parts of the country and many of these members are becoming influential as credible authorities on horticultural issues and policy. A very important outcome was the establishment of a scientific horticulture journal – Ghana Journal of Horticulture.
In the second phase, the project continued to provide the necessary resources to build on the foundation of the first phase and assist GhIH to become more self-sustaining through the following activities: Annual General Meetings, Council quarterly meetings, Commissions and committee meetings, and formation of more student groups; production of the Ghana Journal of Horticulture and the GhIH Newsletter; workshops and seminars; radio programs; and National lecturers.
Activities of GhIH members in the rural communities in the Upper West have had a major impact on building capacities of farmers in the techniques required for growing a wide range of vegetables more efficiently. These vegetables serve as a source of food during the dry (hungry) season and as a source of revenue generation as they are sold through the markets. Practices such as reduced pesticide use and the production and use of compost are enhancing the environmental sustainability of their farming practices. The farmers now recognize GhIH members as valuable sources of information dedicated to improving their quality of life. The project will continue to build on this new knowledge base and provide further training on pests and diseases management, water management practices, postharvest management, and marketing for farmers. A new crop, orange sweet potato, has been included in the program. There is little production of sweet potato in the region but the high vitamin A content in this vegetable has the potential to be a major contributor to human health in the region. Emphasis has been placed on enhancing the participation of women in GhIH and strengthening the leadership role of women at the vegetable production sites will continue.
The Upper West is one of the most economically deprived ares of Ghana in part due to its isolation and distance from government and economic agencies in the capital Accra in the south. The project has also supported the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) staff in the Upper West area to assist in the delivery of the field schools and to conduct vegetable evaluation field trials. These activities have generated a great deal of interest from the farmers who now recognize the potential for greater income generation. They are keenly interested in more information and other villages are asking to be included in the field school training because they see the benefits accruing to the participating villages. Many women are assuming leadership roles in the farmer groups and are being recognized for their valuable contributions.
The new partnership will continue dry season vegetable production at four dam sites (Busa, Karni, Babile and Piina) plus Nandom with its dry season wells and Behii. The project will concentrate on developing value chain for specific commodities such as chilli pepper, bra and alefu. Cross border farmer-to-farmer and researcher-to-researcher collaboration with neighbouring West African countries has also been initiated. Farmers in the Upper West Region have started benefiting from this collaboration through exchange of vegetable germplasm and scientific information.
Lessons Learned through the Project
- Collaboration with MoFA and other Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) has enhanced achievement and progress of project objectives.
- Among all the NGOs and other agencies offering assistance to Dry Season Vegetable farmers, only GhIH/CSHS project is offering training in capacity building while the others are more focused on inputs such as working tools (hoes, cutlass, watering cans, etc.). This positions GhIH well for collaboration and support from government ministries, departments and agencies.
- As a result of the Training of Trainers workshops, women especially in Babile have been able to form a group of 15 who meet regularly and pay dues of 50 pesewas weekly to be used to start an account with a rural bank. Members who may face financial difficulties will subsequently be assisted and pay back later after the sale of their produce. This development provides greater opportunities for women to participate in leadership and decision-making.
- Farmers’ willingness to share their experiences on radio is an indication that they are not only receivers but ready to impart knowledge as well.
- Farmers have a good selection of produce that they cultivate for the market. This is because they understand the market (consumer taste and demand) and this depends on quality seeds for production.
- Other indirect farmers expressing interest in the project is an indication that there is effective information dissemination at various levels: farmer to farmer, Agriculture Extension Agents to farmer, and radio broadcasts to farmers.
Complete project results are presented in the Final Report for the AIC International Twinning Partnership Program, pages 24 to 32.
AIC’s International Twinning Partnership Program (ITPP) provides opportunities for Canadian Member Organizations to work cooperatively and share expertise with developing country partner organizations through long-term partnerships. The ITPP promotes technological and scientific innovations in agricultural practices that are environmentally viable and sustainable, and develops increased awareness and understanding of international development among AIC Member Organizations. This Program is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).