AfricaRISING on the upswing

A tour of project sites reveals encouraging progress and ongoing challenges.

Jude Adda (left) and Victor Afari-Sefa.

From 3-6 February 2020, Regional Director for West and Central Africa – Coastal & Humid Regions Victor Afari-Sefa visited AfricaRISING project hubs in Ghana (3 hubs at Nyangua community, 1 at Tekuri community, 3 at Gia, 2 at Bonia) implemented by WorldVeg and partners.

Victor checked in on variety trials, joint soil amendment trials with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), joint water management trials with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and demonstration plots that emphasized good agricultural practices for tomatoes, chili peppers and onions under Sudano-Sahel agro-climatic conditions.

To enhance community ownership, a management committee has been set up in each of the beneficiary communities to address key challenges and to tap existing opportunities for community members. Local chiefs, opinion leaders, and selected beneficiary farmers including women are participating, which has improved community ownership of the projects.

Several farmers have developed an interest in diversifying their crop choices with onion and are interested in the elite onion lines introduced by WorldVeg. Trials at nearly all of the sites were in excellent condition—a testimony to the commitment of participating farmers. Farmers were concerned about the lack of seed of preferred varieties such as chili peppers and onions at the end of the trial season. Unfortunately most of these WorldVeg lines are not yet available from private seed companies.

“In Gia community, I had the opportunity of meeting a young university graduate farmer named Jude Adda,” Victor said.  “With WorldVeg’s assistance, Jude has cultivated a 1-acre chili field and is interested in expanding into onions. I was so impressed by his motivation to venture into farming, given the lack of formal jobs on the market and his young age.”

Jude admitted that starting his farming business was a tough challenge, but he is glad he took that bold step. Despite a steep learning curve at the outset, he is now making good proceeds from produce sales. Other unemployed graduates in his age group could benefit from activities to establish youth in horticulture enterprises.

Victor also visited the CSIR-CRI led UK aid trials in Navrongo at the Tono Dam irrigation site. “The field trials were looking pretty good and data collection was in progress despite the high temperatures in the Sudano-Sahel at this time of the year,” he said.

While in Tamale, Victor witnessed the closing phase of a sack gardening Training of Trainers (ToT) for public agricultural extension agents led by Vegetable Breeder Jean-Baptiste Tignegre and Project Research Associate Raki Diallo, WorldVeg Mali colleagues who had been invited by the University for Development Studies, Ghana (the AfricaRISING project partner in charge of nutrition) to lead the exercise.

Participants learn how to prepare sack gardens in a training session led by WorldVeg Mali researchers Jean-Baptiste Tignegre and Raki Diallo.

Story and photos: Victor Afari-Sefa