Voices from the field: Ishmael Kontor, Ghana

Farmer Ishmael Kontor of Ghana demonstrates the row-planting method he learned about over the radio.

When Ishmael Kontor, 68, retired back to his village of Techiman Nsunwa, in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana, he took up farming to pass the time and keep up with his expenses.

Ishmael used to broadcast his seeds, or plant as many as four or five in each hole. But when harvest time came, he would get at most eight bags per acre. “What I am supposed to get from one piece of land, I am not seeing,” he says.

But, thanks to radio, Ishmael has a plan. Shortly after Ishmael had sown his maize, he learned from Asta FM about proper planting methods. Next season, he plans to abandon the broadcast method of planting, and plant one seed per hole.

“In the next major season, I plan to join those people who plant in lines,” he says. “With the methods they are teaching, I know I can get 12 bags or more per acre.”

As a farmer, Ishmael doesn’t like spending time on things that don’t benefit him, but listening to the radio, he says, is different.

“I know when I am listening, I am learning things I can go and put into practice. At the end of the day, people cannot tell me that I am in the village and am not doing anything.”

The radio program that Ishmael listens to is made possible through USAID’s  New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund. This project focuses on using a scalable, integrated suite of ICT-based services to cost-effectively drive behaviour change and help Ghanaian farmers increase their yields of six target crops (maize, rice, soybean, cassava, yam, and cowpeas), thereby improving food security. 

Tara Sprickerhoff
About the author  
Tara Sprickerhoff is a recent graduate of Carleton University’s Bachelor of Journalism program. She spent the summer of 2015 working in Accra, Ghana, as a journalism intern with Farm Radio International, and recently returned to continue on. Tara aspires to one day work in radio herself, as she is happiest when she is able to give others a voice to share their own stories and passions.

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