Ghana’s ‘best farmers’ grow thanks to radio
It is a hot sunny Wednesday afternoon and Abraham Agyei Appiah is working on his maize farm.
On his return from the farm, he pulls out his phone.
“I do my best to listen to the program every Wednesday at 7.30pm. Even if I’m still in town, I listen with my phone. I always ensure my phone is charged in order not to miss an episode,” he says.
Abraham resides in Nkoranza Sesiman in the Nkoranza South Municipal assembly. He is excited about the radio programmes on farming and ensures he never misses an episode. Abraham is married with six children. He caters to his family’s needs with earnings made from the farm.
Agricultural advisory services are critical to farmers. They offer information regarding better agricultural practices and often visit farmers at their homes or fields to give advice. However, in Ghana, the government is looking at ways to ensure its stretched advisory services can better serve farmers.
“I always ensure my phone is charged in order not to miss an episode.”Abraham Agyei Appiah, Best Maize Farmer winner, Nkoranza South Municipality
According to Abraham, extension officers support farmers like himself, but are not always available. He said they also did not have the time to teach in detail. He was thrilled when he heard about the introduction of the Green Leaf farmers’ program on Fabea FM, one of Farm Radio International’s radio partners on the Remote-led Radio and ICT based Agricultural Advisory Services, or RAISE, project.
Before the farming program, Abraham practiced old-fashioned methods of farming. He would plant his seeds too deep in the soil, resulting in them failing to germinate. Thanks to the radio program, he learned the role of seed depths and how it affects germination.
He explained that the radio programs also introduced him to other, better, farming techniques — like the right way and time of fertilizer application, and the importance of planting in rows and spacing.
“I used to be of the opinion that the bigger the size of your farmland, the more produce you harvest but I know better now,” he says.
He boasts of harvesting 80 bags of maize from his 20 acres of farmland. In 2021, Abraham received the best maize farmer award in the Nkoranza South Municipal assembly on Ghana’s 37th Farmers’ Day event held on December 3rd, and he accredits this win to the Green Leaf farmers’ program.
He’s not the only farmer with that experience
Best farmers learn farming techniques from radio
“Through the program I have been introduced to liquid fertilizers and never knew they were as efficient as the pellets,” says Joseph Duodu, a 60-year-old farmer who has also benefited from the Green Leaf farmers program on the RAISE project.
Joseph was awarded second place in the 37th Best Farmer Awards in Techiman Municipal District. He learned how to apply chemicals at the appropriate time for maximum benefit. He purchased less of the chemical last year because application was done at the right time and loss was little.
Farmers need to ensure that they have healthy soil in order to grow healthy crops. Fertilizer application has a significant effect on crop yields and must be used properly. Fertilizers provide crops with the nutrients they need to grow. But fertilizers alone are not enough.
“Myself and other farmers in my community were not well informed about planting in rows,” he says.
Joseph explained that he enjoyed how knowledge was being shared on the radio and how every information was explained in its entirety.
Timely and relevant information is shared through the radio so farmers can access and help identify solutions to challenges they encounter and lead to improved yields. Joseph cultivates a variety of crops; maize, yam, cassava, cocoa, mangoes, cashew and livestock amongst others.
Joseph does not only listen to the radio program but participates through phone calls to share his experience and lessons with his colleagues on air. By doing this he received prizes in the form of agro-inputs like seeds and fertilizer and t-shirts.
“The inputs have been of great help to me,” he indicated.
Joseph planted two acres of maize in the minor season this year — all in rows — and he anticipates harvesting 40 bags. This, he says, is what helped him win the best farmer award.
‘Weather information on the program coupled with advice from experts has helped me select the right variety [of seeds] for planting.”Abraham Agyei Appiah, Best Maize Farmer winner, Nkoranza South Municipality
The RAISE project aims to catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase income and improve food security of small-holder farmers by promoting and strengthening remote-led gender responsive extension services delivery in Ghana. Farm Radio International has partnered with 13 radio stations in Ghana to provide them with critical information on AGRA’s value chain (soybean, maize, cowpea and millet). Radio programs are aired in local dialects and are broadcast at the times farmers are able to listen.
The programs are designed to encourage active farmers’ participation by allowing farmers to share their voice either through a segment where a selection of farmers are interviewed and their voices are played on air, or through the phone-in segment where farmers are allowed to share their experiences on the topic being discussed. Farmers can also call in to Farm Radio’s Uliza system after the program to share voices.
The programs are not designed only to talk about farming either; during the COVID-19 pandemic, they kept listeners up-to-date on public health measures. They also look to support farmers dealing with climate change, broadcasting climate-smart information.
“Weather information on the program coupled with advice from experts has helped me select the right variety [of seeds] for planting and plan the application of fertilizers and chemicals very well leading to little loss” said Abraham.
With agricultural advise broadcast weekly, and in line with the season, it’s sure that these farms and their farmers will continue to grow.
About the author
Sefakor Humade is a communications volunteer based in Farm Radio International’s Ghana office.
About the project
The Remote‐led Radio and ICT based Agricultural Advisory Services (RAISE) project is funded through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as part of the USAID Ghana Inclusive Agriculture Transformation — GIAT program. The USAID Ghana Inclusive Agricultural Transformation (GIAT) program targets key value chains such as maize, soybean, cowpea, and groundnut. The program deliberately targets women and youth, and mainstream gender at all levels of its implementation.This program is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).