About 100,000 smallholder farmers in selected communities in Northern Ghana are set to benefit from a project that seeks to improve their production and increase their economic opportunities for improved livelihoods.
It is being implemented by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), a Rocha Ghana, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The project dubbed, “Creating Lands of Opportunity: Transforming Livelihoods through Landscape Restoration in the Sahel” is a three-year plan (2020-2023).
The five million Euro project has funding support from the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition through the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification-Global Mechanism.
Dr. Iddrisu Yahaya, the Lead Researcher on the project at the CSIR-SARI based in Wa, revealed in an interview with the Ghana News Agency that CSIR-SARI would focus on building the capacity of the farmers on improved farming practices, while a Rocha Ghana would support the farmers to develop renewable energy such as solar, with the EPA training the farmers on environmentally friendly farming practices.
Dr. Yahaya said they had conducted a baseline survey on food crops and livestock value chains including maize, soya beans, cowpea goats, and sheep, and identified the challenges including a knowledge gap in agronomic practices and marketing techniques among the farmers, which needed to be addressed.
He said the project had designed a sustainable value chain development plan, which would improve the productivity of the farmers including building their capacities in Good Agronomic Practices (GAP), effective marketing techniques, and linking the farmers to ready markets through trade fairs.
In an interview with Ghana News Agency, Dr. Julius Yirzagla, a researcher with the CSIR-SARI based in Bawku revealed that the trade fair component of the project would also expose farmers to agri-inputs such as tractors and improved seeds.
“Producers knowing, they have a readily available market will be committed to their productions and will add value to improve the quality of their production to achieve their production targets and improve their livelihoods.
“The trade fair will establish linkages between farmers and buyers and bring about sustainability in their crop production and productivity”, he explained.
He added that as part of the project implementation, they would also procure equipment such as threshers and weighing scales for the farmers in the beneficiary communities towards improving their production and ensuring standardization in selling their produce.
“We have seen that a lot of foreign companies come in to buy such crops as soya beans, and when they come, the middlemen go to the villages and buy the produce from farmers in sacks then come and weigh for the companies, and farmers don’t get the actual value of their produce,” Dr. Yirzagla stated.
The project is also being implemented in Burkina Faso and Niger to promote landscape restoration and improve the livelihoods of rural communities by ensuring sustainable production of high-value dryland products among others.
The project targets about 100,000 value chain actors in the Upper East and Upper West Regions with specific emphasis on the Nachala and Saakulu in the Sissala East Municipality, Upper West Region; Dalaasa and Naadema communities in the Builsa South District; Yameriga and Awaradone in the Taensi District and Tarikom and Gbango communities in the Bawku West District in the Upper East Region.