Two weeks before Yahaya Seidu, 34, goes to plant his seeds, he prepares a special batch of up to 40 seeds and plants them in a nursery.
Using a method known as the seed germination test, Yahaya watches carefully to see how many of those seeds sprout.
If 100 per cent of the seeds grow, Yahaya then knows that he is good to go and can plant his seeds without worry. If he gets less than that, Yahaya is sure to plant additional seeds in order to ensure his harvest will be as plentiful as possible.
“It’s helped because at the end of the day, I don’t need to refill my field because I know the potential of the seeds that will grow,” he says.
Yahaya learned about the test by listening to a radio program on Asta FM from his home in Nsunwa in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Asta FM broadcasts FRI-supported programs about maize quality as part of the AgroTech project run in partnership with the Grameen Foundation.
The germination test is important, Yahaya says, because you can’t be sure about all seeds that bought at the market. While Yahaya buys seeds from a trusted and certified dealer, he says others will go to the market and buy from less reliable dealers which can result in lower numbers of sprouts.
“I got 100 per cent in my last germination test,” says Yahaya, happy to report that the test has allowed him to plant one seed per hole, and he is content to know that his farm’s yield will be secure.
The radio program that Yahaya 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.