The concept of the ProFarms Gateway project is the first of its kind in the Ashanti-Bekwai enclave of the Ashanti region of Ghana. Although the objective of the project mimics that of the lake Bosomtwi concept, its model of ecological education coupled with its SDG sensitivity, makes it exceptional as far as the concept is concerned.
In line with the concept, within the first week of April 2022 under review, two (2) strategic action plans were drawn from the 2-month ProFarms Gateway holistic action plan for engagement. These selected action plans included but were not limited to the following:
1. Designing the landscape to serve its intended purpose
2. Planting of medicinal and different varieties of crops congruent with the ProFarms Gateway concept.
All these aforementioned plans were put into action within the first week of April 2022 as itemized in the holistic 2 months ProFarms Gateway project action plan.
1.1 Designing of landscape to serve the intended purpose of the ProFarms Gateway project
Per this strategic action plan, the major activity of the first saw the elimination of diseased, scattered and dead orange trees from the project site. This was done to provide a good platform to intercrop and aid the control of diseases, and consequently, avoid the spreading of diseases to healthy orange trees. Throughout the 3 days exercise, about 72 diseased, poor performing and dead orange trees were eliminated. This activity provided a temporal job for about 10 people consisting of 7 males and 3 females, all of whom were local farmers within the Kokofu enclave. This exercise has already given a good dimension and shape to the entire landscape of the ProFarms Gateway project site. Key boundaries have been cleared for visibility. Matured existing coconut trees have been cleared of weeds and pruned for good growth and performance. In fact, all required maintenance actions on all existing crops particularly coconut and interesting orange trees have been adhered to. Currently, about 32 dispersed and diseased orange trees are left to be cleared from unauthorized locations to give way to other key components of the concept of the ProFarms Gateway project.
1.2 Planting of medicinal and different varieties of crops congruent with the ProFarms Gateway concept.
As far as this action plan is concerned, within the week under review, approximately 520 pieces of cassava cuttings or planting materials were planted on one plot or a quarter of an acre. These six months improved diseased resistant variety of cuttings were sourced from local farmers across the entire Kokofu enclave. This initiative provided income to more than four(4) households. It is worth noting that many of these farmers were women. Out of a total of five (5) farmers who supplied the cuttings, four (4) were females. Three (3) out of these four women were also contracted to do the planting. This goes to affirm the gender-sensitive nature of the ProFarms Gateway project and its quest to work towards contributing to the achievement of SDG 5.
The underpinned of this planting exercise is to provide a solid foundation for the roll-up and to sustain the livestock component of the project when it finally kick-off. This means that there
is going to be enough planting exercise, particularly in cassava and corn. However, considering logistical constraints currently as far as the project is concerned, a rainfed system will be the option. Therefore, from April to October, the planting exercise will be intensified to ensure that there is enough feed in stock to sustain the livestock component, while also contributing to the food needs of visitors, workers and others. GPS coordinates of planted areas have been taken to inform the land-use map of the Project site.
Given the nature of the land, most planting initiatives will conform to the intercropping system of planting to improve the soil. This will also mean that since cassava and orange trees are extensive galloper of nutrients, they will be intercropped with legumes and corn to ensure sustainable nutrient uptake and replacement. In all, a total of 5.5 acres of the project site will be allotted for food crop production. These will include but are not limited to different varieties of vegetables, cassava, corn, spices, Pineapples, banana, plantains and others. This will seek to serve the educational needs of visitors, value addition and food security component of the initiative incongruent with the ProFarms Gateway project concept and its contribution towards achieving SDGs 1,2,3 and 4, complementing the overall goal of the UN agenda.
Considering these aforementioned key components, the management of the ProFarms Gateway project is in close contact with an officer from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture(MoFA) in the Bekwai municipality to access major species and varieties of planting materials of good quality for planting.
Presently, different varieties of banana and plantain suckers have been requested from MoFA for planting on the field close to the existing banana plantations. This site is conducive for plantain, banana and even snails due to its good micro-climatic condition and nutrient deposit. In principle, per the land-use map, the area must be allocated for all Musa spp including snails. The upstream of the orange orchard will be suitable for the apiary (beehive enclave).
Photos showing procured cassava planting materials being loaded and transported to project site
Women learning line planting method as part of planting exercise at project site
Pictures showing coconut pruning exercises
2.0 Way forward/Next activity
Planting of improved corn, banana and plantain varieties
Continue the pruning exercise on both matured and seedlings coconut trees on the field
Continue with the clearing of diseased and dispersed orange trees from unauthorized locations to make way for other set-ups.
Prepare organic neem extract and mix with inorganic to spray healthy orange trees
In conclusion, it is expected that by the end of April, all the aforementioned activities will be done and the land ready for the construction of a storage facility and a shelter to get the project on its intended purpose and sustainable trajectory.