Seeing is believing for entrepreneurial Ghanaians
Farmers powered by successful agricultural project
Shei Afiliua and her husband live two hours’ drive from the city of Tamale, in northern Ghana. To access supplies for their rural farm, they made a deal: for every acre of land they tilled, they would give their supplier one bag of whatever they produced.
“If I am not lucky and produce just two bags of soybeans, they will take one and I will have just one bag which will not sustain me,” says Shei.
Fed up with her lot, Shei became involved with iDE in the 2020 production season. She attended every group training that she could and applied what she learned from her mentor, who worked as an iDE-trained “Farm Business Advisor.”
Not only did she outperform her husband with soybean yields, Shei also became the most successful participant in her group.
She says other people in the community now come to her asking for her support instead of the other way around. She encourages them to adopt the same practices she did, telling them their current methods were wasting money and their limited time.
“In our tradition, the Dagbani, people want to see it to believe it,” said Shei, “I couldn’t have gone out with a microphone to say this and that. I must show them.”
Ghana’s rapid growth (7 percent per year in 2017-19) was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the March 2020 lockdown, and a sharp decline in commodity exports, according to the World Bank.
The economic slowdown and an unstable currency has had a considerable impact on households. In 2022, Ghana's annual consumer inflation accelerated to a new 21-year high of 50.3 percent in November, up from 40.4 percent the previous month, driven by rising utilities, food and fuel prices.
Shei is one of almost 150 farmers powered by the successful Korsung agricultural project known as Accelerating Impact of Food Security (AIFS) – which is part of iDE’s broader Korsung agricultural initiative, which translates as “good farming practices” in local language, Dagbani – which ran between April 2021 and March 2022.
The US$225,000 project helped boost nutrition and food security for participants by scaling up their capacity to produce higher yields of soybeans and rice, while also increasing vegetable production during the dry season using irrigation.
Funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the project aimed to help 1,000 individuals catalyze agricultural activities and strengthen their resilience to disasters and unexpected hardship.
Abdul-Mumin Damba Tahidu, iDE Ghana country manager, said project staff organized farmers into groups, assigned them plots on a model farm, and trained them to successfully produce soybeans and rice.
“The farmers then replicated training from the production on the model farm on their farms,” Damba said.
Damba said iDE also provided farmers with access to climate-smart agriculture training, insights on best market prices for produce, and training on drip irrigation techniques.
iDE is a global development organization dedicated to ending poverty. We believe the market offers the best way to incentivize people and find sustainable solutions that can be passed down through generations.
Learn more about iDE’s approach and our efforts to power resilient market ecosystems here.
Results: Accelerating Impact of Food Security
iDE Ghana reached 146 farmers, 97 percent of its 150-smallholder farmer target.
We exceeded our FBA target by recruiting and training a cadre of seven FBAs who increased farmer access to input and output markets, technologies, and techniques.
These seven FBAs successfully supported small-scale farmers to achieve an average increase in family income by $228, 380 percent increase over our intended target of $60.
We estimate that this work improved the livelihoods of 1,460 individuals in the northern and savannah regions of Ghana.
Lessons Learned By Project Staff
Keyhole Gardens: The introduction of keyhole gardening created an opportunity for women without access to land and irrigation technology to produce vegetables year round. Keyhole gardening is a type of raised garden bed made with local, low cost materials. This gardening technique removes barriers for women to grow vegetables on very little water year round. It plays a critical role in enhancing household nutritional outcomes for improved food security. Community women see this as a form of empowerment as it presents the unique opportunity for them to serve their family especially children high-value nutritional meals all year round.
Knowledge Shared: An incentive structure rewarded best performing farmers by supporting their travel to other communities to share best practices. By encouraging farmers to train others, we were able to further diffuse knowledge to expand our reach and create a greater impact.
FBA capacity: The iDE team expressed an interest in further building FBA capacity by providing richer training related to business negotiation skills, agronomic practices, linkage skills, and extension delivery skills. These skills are critical for helping newly certified FBAs become fully self-sufficient and able to grow their farming business well beyond iDE’s direct support.