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Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Community training in the rains



Waking up to a very cloudy morning interspersed with rain and drizzles, we set off together as a team from Tamale to Walewale for the farmers training we had organised. We anticipated an attendance of about 200 farmers from Nayorku. Halfway through the journey, it rained incessantly and became worse on arrival at Walewale with most places flooded.

With our fingers crossed, we were hoping the training session comes off successfully. Majority Farmers in this area are rain fed farmers and they will prefer to utilize their time in preparing their farm lands to sitting for a training meeting after a rainfall. Fortunately, 10 minutes in the community, it stopped raining and our trainer with extreme dedication had to also endure the heavy rains on his motorbike from the district capital to the community to facilitate the training.

A church auditorium was the venue for the farmers training. This was located at the Centre of the community and could be easily and readily accessible to all. In spite of the heavy rains, the community volunteers with the help of the trainer were able to mobilize to the venue more than 100 farmers. Unfortunately, women’s representation was very poor as compared to that of the men notwithstanding the request made for more women farmers’ attendance and participation. 

The church venue begins to fill up as the rains stop

However, the training kicked –off with a word of prayer from one of the farmers. The trainer then involved the farmers in a discussion about the methods which they use on their farmlands in the preparation for planting and plant spacing. He was creating a baseline by trying to ascertain what the farmers knew. Now with that, he moved on to teaching them about the best farm practices which when practiced by the farmers will help increase their yields. He further outlined some key areas of focus for the training session and they were; minimum tillage, no-tillage/ zero tillage, stable mule & tillage, tied ridges, integrated nutrients, organic fertilizer crop residual, legume/composting and animal manure.
 
Woman farmer sharing her knowledge alongside the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Extension Officer

After the lecture, the trainer devised a means to making the session participatory by allowing the farmers ask questions for clarification. Five seasoned farmers from the community, including one lady were also given the opportunity to share with their colleague farmers the knowledge and experiences gained from agriculture over the past years. They covered various issues ranging from land preparation, composting, seed selection, planting techniques, intercropping, mixed cropping, harvesting and storage. The agricultural extension officer quickly brought the meeting to an end by approving of some of the shared methods practiced by the farmers and also updating them on other ways of improving farming with the methods discussed.
 
Provision of snacks to attendees, which is always expected in Ghana

The team provided to the farmers some snacks at the end of the training and proceeded to have a brief discussion meeting with the elected leaders of the co-operative. We shared views and experiences. We also came up with a demonstration project to compare improved seeds to the local/conventional seed using best farming practices. The farmers eagerly offered a half acre farmland with the promise of securing a full acre on which the demonstration project could effectively be carried out to enable the farmers to replicate easily on their farms after observing and participating in the demonstration project.
Us discussing the way forward with the farmer's co-op leaders


The hope is that through peer education of hands-on farming at this demo site, the farming community in Nayorku will use best skills to be more productive farmers, reducing the need to rely on their children as much as they do for labour.



Jill, Justice and Titus.