Committing personal resources to vegetable trials
It takes individual effort for the benefits of a project to take hold on farms and in communities once activities conclude.
Since 2012, the World Vegetable Center through the USAID-sponsored AFRICA RISING Sudano Sahel project has conducted trials with lead farmers to select elite high-yielding and disease resistant vegetable varieties, and also built the capacity of farmers in Good Agronomic Practices for vegetable production within the Upper East and Northern Regions of Ghana.
However, expanding project activities to cover non-lead farmers in the intervention communities has been a challenge. “Non-lead farmers” are those willing to commit personal resources (land, labor, capital) to undertake vegetable trials with minimal support from the project. Despite this understanding, many non-lead farmers still expect to receive the full complement of resources from the project, similar to what is provided to lead farmers.
Project staff made an extra effort to explain the situation to non-lead farmers: Although these farmers do not receive intensive support from the project, they can gain much by participating in trials, as they can try new varieties and learn new skills.
Now, about 130 non-lead farmers have realized the benefits of committing their personal resources to conduct vegetable trials. Due to increased interest, the target of 90 non-lead participants was increased to 140. Project activities were expanded to cover Gia and Bonia, two new non-lead farmer communities located within the Kasenena Nankana West district of the Upper East Region. Some non-lead farmers have used their own resources to buy fencing materials, set up mechanized boreholes, and purchase inputs. This is a good step toward ensuring the sustainability of the intervention after the project concludes.
“Instead of putting the good knowledge that I have learned from farming projects into practice, I have always folded my hands and waited for capital support from the project,” said Mr. Awebura Nabaare, a 52-year-old non-lead farmer and father of four from Gia. “But now, thanks to WorldVeg, I have changed that mentality. I am currently testing elite varieties of tomato, hot pepper and onions on my farm with technical support from WorldVeg. I have been able to set-up a mechanized borehole on my farm and purchase a zinc fence with my personal savings. I will continue to employ the good practices to produce vegetable crops even if the project is not there.”
Most non-lead farmers have now realized that projects come and go. It is their best interest to commit themselves to learning new skills when the opportunity is presented, and then putting that knowledge into practice once a project has ended.
“I am very happy to be part of this project,” said Mrs. Priscilla Kwoyiri Awinibisa, a farmer and mother of one from Bonia. “I did not have any stable occupation to do previously, but with the technical support of the project, I have now gained knowledge on how to cultivate vegetables such as pepper, tomatoes and onions. My husband, who is a pork seller, has supported me to mechanize a borehole and fence an acre of land to cultivate vegetables. Even if the project is ends, I will still cultivate vegetables to support my husband and to put a smile on the face of my son, Little Makai.’’
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