Field Activity Report
PFG through its Agriculture Technology Aggregation Centre (AgTaC) has made a significant contribution to supporting smallholder farmers, especially youth, over the past 10 months by providing them with practical training in various modules of agriculture. This support or intervention is underpinned by the huge agricultural skills gap compounded by a limited agricultural extension service person and the high illiteracy rate among small-holder farmers in some parts of Ghana, particularly the Ashanti region. These challenges which go to affect farming practices, especially a farmer’s ability to read and adequately utilize or apply agro-chemicals on their farms in the accurate proportion, coupled with the profoundness of the youth in the lucrative and deadly illegal small-scale mining creates major issues in the supply of provisioning ecosystem services, biodiversity and deepening poverty among community members, particularly women who depend mostly on provisioning ecosystem services as a livelihood and sustenance.
PFG, mindful of the contribution of the youth and smallholder farmers in social economic development, including food and nutritional security, respectively has devoted much attention to creating enabling environment to help bridge the high youth unemployment gap by using innovative agriculture technology as a driver of change to attract more youth into agriculture to create jobs and improving food and nutritional security in every Ghanaian household including providing support to the Ghana school feeding programme to boost the nutrition needs of learners and teachers.
The Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP) which is an initiative of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) and seeks to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on hunger, poverty and malnutrition has recently been challenged by lack of food supply, partly due to current global economic meltdown and internal challenges. As a roadmap of PFG towards helping to address the food and nutritional insecurity gap among pregnant women and children in Ghana using innovative sustainable agriculture practices, the month of October 2022 saw over 100kg of carrots and 800kg of sweet oranges donated to Essiase government basic school in the Ashanti region of Ghana. This donation was also in the response to the high nutritional gap that exists among pupils in the locality and the need to psychologically help the children appreciate farming as a livelihood.
The donation benefited over 200 basic pupils, particularly the Kindergarten 2, basic 1- 6. In all, six (6) teachers consisting of the headmaster and supporting staff including the learners benefitted from the donation. In terms of gender distribution, 55% of the beneficiaries were females while 45% were males. This result can be attributed to the high number of female pupils in the lower basic class, particularly kindergarten 2 and basic 1 at the time of distribution.
Again, as PFG is committed to making agriculture attractive to the youth to reduce the peril associated with illegal small-scale mining activity and its threat to the ecosystem, the officials of PFG instilled a training package as part of the donation, where 15 selected learners from basic 4, 5 and 6 including 4 teachers were selected to undergo some basic training on carrot production at PFGs demonstration farm. This initiative was taken to encourage carrot production to support the school feeding programme to meet the food and nutritional gap among learners in the school while supporting the school administration financially, particularly under this current global economic meltdown where the government is failing to provide the basic school administration needs of schools across the country.
During the training visit, the learners and their teachers were taken through basic bed preparation, planting and organic manure application techniques. After the end of the training onsite, the school was provided with improved carrot seeds which will be planted by the learners in their school under the technical guidance of PFGs technical lead and support from teachers. It is expected that this initiative will be replicated across the entire Ashanti region. It’s worth noting that this gesture is the first of its kind in the region, and it will be replicated across other schools and ministries, especially the district hospitals in the region, where a high nutritional gap has been reported among young pregnant women across some districts particularly Bekwai and its environs.
Small-holder farmers empowerment
Unlike cabbage production, carrot production is a new enterprise that has been introduced into the locality by PFG to diversify livelihood and increase sources of income among smallholder farmers. Within the month under review, PFG engaged some women groups, mostly the youth to assist PFG field officers and the technical lead to undertake carrot harvesting. This group has undergone various training on the 30 acres PFGs demonstration farm including carrot planting and management practices. Therefore, after 3 months, PFG saw the need to engage them in the harvesting process. The group was taken through the entire harvesting technique which hitherto they were not familiar with. In fact, to most of the beneficiaries of this carrot project, the PFGs carrot project was the first time they ever saw live carrots in bed. This implies the enormous contribution this project has had on people in the Kokofu-Essiase locality of the Ashanti region.
Fortunately, as it stands now, over 30 small-holder farmers mostly women including 200 basic pupils and their 6 teachers have the requisite skills to go into full-time carrot production, from bed preparation to harvesting including packaging without any technical support. Thanks to PFGs intervention.