Field Activity Report
Maize and cassava growth progress
1.0 Field Activities
The PFG project recognizing the role of smallholder farmers in bridging the global food insecurity gap has given much attention to helping contribute to the quality of their farm operations as well as their livelihoods. Indeed, smallholders form a vital part of the global agricultural community, yet they are often neglected.
1.1 Neem Extract Training
Throughout June 2022, the technical lead of the PFG project trained over 30 small-holder farmers, mostly women in neem extract organic pesticide preparation. PFG project also recognizing the prevalence of insect pests on farms as a result of climate change effect coupled with the high cost of agriculture inputs, saw the need to train these farmers to relieve them of the current economic burden while reducing the effect of inorganic pesticides on their health and the environment.
The vast majority of the smallholders who received the training live in the Kokofu- Essiase community. The underpinning of this training was that these small-holder farmers produce and supply about 70% of the cabbage needs of the entire Kumasi municipality. The excessive use of pesticides has been reported among cabbage farmers across the area due to the persistent threat posed by cabbage worms, and cutworms among others.
Field Application Demonstration Session
It is worth noting that women play a crucial role within the smallholder farming system across the Ashanti region and other parts of Ghana, and are commonly responsible for the production of food crops, especially, where the farming system includes both food and cash crops. Therefore, the PFG project, recognizing the contribution of these farmer groups in agricultural practices and techniques as an important source of knowledge for the transition to sustainable agricultural intensification, has incorporated training systems into its operation. Trainings seeks to factor indigenous knowledge and scientific approaches to finding solutions to smallholder farmers’ problems.
1.1.1 Indigenous Knowledge and Science
Indigenous knowledge systems such as the spreading of ashes on vegetable leaves to control pests provide some useful guidelines concerning potential future directions of scientific research. In the case of no-tillage systems, farmers took a leading role in adapting and applying some of the scientific research findings that had remained in the realm of field practices and experiments by a Scientist in Kumasi.
The introduction of ashes in combination with neem extract and local potash soap was a practice predated to the 1900s by small-holder farmers. In this regard, the neem extract training conducted in the month under review emphasized calibration and application procedures as the scientific component, which sought to differentiate it from the indigenous perspective. PFG believes in the theory that if the smallholder farmer is provided with the rightful tool and skills, they can increase their productivity and income. It is against this backdrop that PFG persistently creates a neighboring environment for the smallholder farmer to operate.
Among the activities carried out on the field within the month under review was slashing under the orange plantation. It is worth noting that the entire community of Essiase offered the PFG project incredible and overwhelming support in clearing a portion of the orange plantation.
Peaceful co-existence remains a critical factor in every society. The Niger Delta incidence in Nigeria continuously reminds the sub-region of the need to provide support to community members as part of corporate social responsibility to facilitate the acquisition of a social license to enhance peaceful co-existence.
The PFG project mindful of the relevance of peaceful co-existence, right from the word go, has offered support in diverse ways to community members and traditional authorities in its operational area. This support spans from substantial financial assistance towards the construction of the Essiase palace to free capacity building.
Essiase Palace under construction
PFG Executive Director was the guest of honor for the town's Harvest Festival
For the PFG project, it is increasingly evident that obtaining a formal license to operate from governments and meeting regulatory requirements is no longer enough. There has been documented evidence of instances of conflicts between communities and companies leading to deaths, equipment being destroyed, and development activities being delayed, interrupted, and even shut down due to community opposition. The situation looks different under the PFG project, as community members including traditional authorities take lead in mobilizing community forces to help slash demonstration fields of the organization. This gesture indeed demonstrates the strong cohesion and relationship the organization has built with the community within a limited timeframe.
2.0 Improving Demonstration Farm
As part of the activity marking the month under review, some improved carrot seeds and eggplant seedlings were acquired for planting to augment the varieties of crops in the demonstration site and also provide farmers with diverse crops as learning materials. Tokita variety of carrot seeds were planted at stake. This was done participatory with farmers on-site to introduce new crops that can help them diversify their livelihood. Cabbage has been the major commercial vegetable cultivated by farmers in the area, which is usually affected by pests and unstable market prices, especially during its high production season of May to August. The introduction of carrot as an alternative commercial vegetable which requires minimal rain will help relieve farmers from the high economic hardship during the off-season of cabbage while alternating the insect pest infestation resulting from persistent cabbage cultivation in the area.
Organic Vegetables and Legumes Demonstration Field
Additionally, PFG recognizing the role of Moringa in animal feed formulation, continues to provide excellent care to the crop at the juvenile stage of the plant growth. We believe that agriculture research is the driver to the development of sustainable agriculture and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa and the smallholder farmer produces over 60% of the world's food needs, hence the need for an experimental farm. Agriculture research and knowledge transfer remain key to our very existence. Other improved varieties of plants such as pawpaw have also been planted to serve the food and nutritional security needs of farmers as well as serving the training needs of the PFG project beneficiaries.
Moringa seedlings in nursery
To augment the demonstration portfolio of the site, Banana, Taro and some cocoyam suckers were planted this month. Additionally, some cross-cutting activities such as pest control on some affected coconut trees among others were also carried out to ensure sanity on site.
2.1 Women's access to household energy
Women's support is among the priority areas of the PFG project. Throughout the months of operation, every month comes with different support for women. The month in question saw the PFG project providing wood fuel to smallholder farmers within the Essiase community to assist them in their household cooking energy needs. This assistance will persist when necessary throughout the project's lifetime.
Wood fuel being prepared for the town's women
Conclusively, it can be stated that the real agricultural challenges of the future will, as today, differ according to their geopolitical and socio-economic contexts. The current divide between those who eat well and those who go hungry will continue to be defined largely by differences in per capita incomes within and between countries, global crises, and lack of support for smallholder farmers. Factors that distinguish the various trajectories of agricultural development also exhibit significant spatial variabilities, such as differences in farming systems and productive capacity, population densities and growth, evolving food demands, infrastructure and market access, as well as the capacity of countries to import food or to invest in agriculture research and environmental improvement. Environmental problems associated with agriculture, too, vary according to their spatial context, ranging from problems associated with the management of modern inputs in intensively farmed areas to problems of deforestation and land degradation in many poor and heavily populated regions with low agricultural potential. In short, despite globalization and increasing world trade in agriculture, there remain large, persistent and, in some cases, worsening spatial differences in the ability of societies both to feed themselves and to protect the long-term productive capacity of their natural resources. This calls for active agriculture research and capacity building of smallholder farmers to protect and conserve their resources while sustainably producing to feed the growing world population.