The Soil Health Project of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which is aimed at boosting maize-based cropping system productivity in Northern Ghana through widespread adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM), has taken off.
The project has the objective of increasing agricultural production and alleviating rural poverty through strengthening partnerships and capacity of Farmer-based Organizations (FBOs) and other players in the agricultural sector to promote integrated soil fertility management.
One of its major components is to strengthen FBOs through training of their (FBOs) leaders aimed at equipping them to manage their organizations effectively and help members to develop understanding of farming as a business.
In line with the objectives of the project, about 50 FBO leaders drawn from various farmer-based organizations from seven districts including Zabzugu-Tatale, Saboba, Nanumba North, Nanumba South, Chereponi, Gushegu and Yendi Municipality have begun training at Yendi.
Alhaji Mohammed Shaibu, Senior Development Planning Officer of the Yendi Municipality, who deputized for Mr Issah Zakaria, Municipal Chief Executive of Yendi, opened the training programme, which would last for five days, on Tuesday.
The training is being facilitated on behalf of AGRA by the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in partnership with the Integrated Development Centre (IDC), a northern-Ghana based community development oriented organization.
AGRA is a not-for profit organization, which is working to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers.
Dr Mathias Fosu, AGRA Soil Health Project Manager at SARI said the production of farmers, especially the cereals, was low due to limited use of improved technologies including the use of improved seeds, fertilizers and labour saving devices and lack of financial and farm management skills by farmers, challenges the project sought to address.
Dr Fosu said to increase the level of adoption of ISFM, “The Soil Health Project is advocating for availability of agricultural credit for farmers in northern Ghana through the AGRA Innovative Financing Scheme,” adding that “We also intend to train farmers to develop business plans that will allow them to access this credit when it becomes possible”.
He said in view of this, the project recognized the need to put farmers under functioning recognizable groups to enable them to enjoy increased returns on their produce in terms of securing them with lucrative markets, amongst other benefits.
He said the project was being replicated in the Upper East and Upper West Regions.
Mr Kenneth Wujangi, Executive Director of IDC, assured that the Centre would use its expertise gained as a result of years of extensive workings with FBOs in the Northern Region, to bear on the training programme.
The IDC was selected to partner SARI to train the FBOs as result of excellent track-record it exhibited in providing training to a number of FBOs in the Northern Region through a Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) sponsored programme in the region.
Mr Wujangi said IDC considered its new assignment as a challenge and an opportunity; thus meeting more farmers to train and deliver quality service to farmers so as to justify its involvement in the project.
Mr Zakaria observed that low capacity to acquire farm implements, credit and peasant nature of farming were responsible for low productivity in the region.
He called on the participants to take the training seriously because it had the potential to ensuring increased production.
Mr Ambrose Ansaayiri, Yendi Municipal Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, commended AGRA for the project and urged the farmers to attach seriousness to the training.