The Climate Information Made Available to Entrepreneurial Farmers (CLIMATE) project has helped to improve agricultural practices amongst farmers in the northern part of the country resulting in improved crop yields and high incomes for farmers.
Mr Abdul-Mumin Fuseini Sochi, a farmer from Libga in the Savelugu Municipality of the Northern Region, who shared his experience under the project at a stakeholders’ forum in Tamale to close the project, said it had saved him a lot of income.
He said “We used to farm normally. We apply fertiliser anytime and sometimes the rain comes to wash it away, which makes our crops not do well. Under the CLIMATE project, we have been connected to the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet). They update us with weather reports in the morning. This helps us to know when and how to apply fertilizer so that it is not washed away by rain. This saves us a lot of money and helps our crops to do well.”
He added that “I used to cultivate up to three acres of maize and soybeans during the wet season. Under the climate project, we have learnt dry season farming, and they have also supported us with irrigation facilities. Through this, I have expanded my farm to 15 acres. I am also using certified maize and soybean seeds, which work within short periods even without enough rain.”
Mr Salifu Zakaria, another farmer from Koduhizegu in the Savelugu Municipality, said the project had been very useful, adding “Before the project, I used to invest a lot without getting yields. I ploughed six acres of maize and got only 30 bags. Under the CLIMATE project, I now plough two and a half acres of maize and get 26 bags.”
He said “We have learnt to plant in rows, make holes to bury the fertiliser so that it is not washed away easily. I also use the irrigation facilities to do vegetable farming, especially tomatoes. This is the first time we have had the opportunity to do dry season farming in my community. I will continue to apply the knowledge gained as part of the CLIMATE project to get good yields.”
The CLIMATE project, which began in March 2020, was a two-year initiative implemented in 17 communities in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions by the Canadian Feed the Children, an international non-governmental organisation, with funding support from the African Development Bank.
The project sought to improve access to appropriate climate information for smallholder farmers in project communities in the three regions as well as ensure that adaptive practices were adopted by smallholder farmers.
Under the project, farmers in the 17 communities received climate and seasonal weather information from GMet while a platform was created for sharing daily and weekly weather information.
A total of 33 water collection and distribution systems and accessories were set up to support irrigation agriculture in the communities whilst 305 farmers were supported with farm inputs such as fertilizer, seeds, pumping machines with accessories amongst others.
The interventions under the project had resulted in increased access to climate information to support coping actions by entrepreneurial farmers in project communities and beyond, improved capacity on coping actions and adoption of some climate resilient practices by smallholder farmers leading to improved crop yields.
Also, seasonal migration, tree felling, and indiscriminate bush burning were being curbed in some project communities because dry season gardening had come to replace youth migration to cities, charcoal burning and hunting for income.
Mr Augustine N-Yokuni, Country Director, Canadian Feed The Children, said the project represented an important step to support smallholder farmers and agricultural livelihoods during climate variability.
He said, “Through CLIMATE, we were able to coordinate efforts across regions and across partners including public and private, into a broader project with a single, clear and urgent objective, to improve the resilience to the risks of climate change of farming households in Northern Ghana.”
He added that technical partners –Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, GMet and Department of Food and Agriculture – contributed their expertise in trainer of trainers, supported with demonstrations on sustainable agronomic practices and in setting-up water collection and distribution systems.
He said “This shaped the project disseminating agents to stepped-down training model at the community level. In addition, GMet supported and guided the team to procure and install seven Agromet Automatic Weather Stations in seven project communities.”
Mr N-Yokuni said “The cascaded training, and on-farm support by community extension agents and agricultural extension agents reached over 5,000 smallholder farmers across the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.”
Mr Eric Asuman, Acting Director-General of GMet gave assurance that even though the project had ended, GMet would continue to provide weather services to the farmer groups and stakeholders within the current coverage to improve agricultural production.
He said “Currently, GMet produces six hourly impact-based weather forecast, updated three times a day to the general public including farmers. In addition, specific area forecasts are generated for some farmer groups.”
He expressed appreciation to the Canadian Feed The Children for installing seven automatic weather stations in the project communities, saying “This has tremendously enhanced data analysis and forecast production for the unserved areas. GMet is very grateful for this kind gesture and will do everything to maintain these facilities to increase productivity.”
By Albert Futukpor, GNA