In a community in the Upper East Region of Ghana, small flocks of guinea fowl live in different pens. Three small doors open into different rooms: one for eggs, one for newly hatched guinea fowl keets, and one for older birds. Two larger pens are open air, enclosed by low walls and chicken wire. The pens are swept daily, kept clean by Alice Apinya.
Alice, 46, is a guinea fowl farmer in Nania, a village not far from the town of Paga. She has been raising guinea fowl for the past four years, but it has not been easy. Raising guinea fowl is difficult even from the beginning.
Farmers have to be careful about sourcing their eggs. Alice says she always buys her eggs from a certain farmer. “If I buy from the market, I buy just for consumption,” she says. “In the market, handlers don’t know how to handle the eggs and, the way they will shake them, they will not hatch.”
Even if they do hatch, it’s difficult to ensure the keets live through to adulthood. Alice says there were many times she didn’t know why her keets were dying.
Recently, however, thanks to a program on URA Radio, Alice has seen considerable improvement in her guinea fowl mortality rates. Before listening to the program, she would often only raise three or four guinea fowl to adulthood out of a batch of 25 eggs, now she gets up to 15.
Alice used to keep guinea fowl the way everyone else was doing it: by letting them roam freely after they hatched. But now her pens are set up to prevent guinea fowl from flying away, and to keep hens and keets safe and warm together. She also now ensures that her keets get deworming medicine when it is necessary and keeps the area especially clean so that toxins don’t get mixed in with the feed.
“[The radio program] helped us to understand many things, how to go about the treatments, how to keep the place neat, how to build a bed. What I like most is about the treatment. How they teach us to take care of our birds when they are sick, or how to deworm them.”
Alice hopes to see a better market for guinea fowl developed. This way, she says, more farmers will be encouraged to take up raising guinea fowl, especially if there are radio programs available to help them succeed. Alice says that the radio is also helping farmers to share their knowledge with each other — both the traditional ways of rearing guinea fowl and more modern methods.
“Maybe you don’t know something and your fellow friend knows. You ask, and they will explain it to you,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot.”
This radio campaign on raising guinea fowl is part of our “Radio for farmer value chain development” project. Funded by Global Affairs Canada, the project was awarded the 2015 WSIS Project Prize for its use of innovative information and communication technologies to support development. So far, it has reached more than four million farmers.