Farmers in the Sagnarigu Municipality say the delivery of agricultural extension services through radio has helped them to learn good methods of farming, which has improved their productivity and income.
Mr Salifu Osman, a rice farmer from the Sange community in the Sagnarigu Municipality, said, “The programme helped me a lot. I used to farm anyhow but now, when I listen to the radio, I learn new ways to farm, how to do land preparation, sew, fertilizer application, harvesting and storage.”
He added that “I now harvest more than before. Previously, I harvested seven bags per acre of rice but now, I harvest up to 30 bags per acre.”
He encouraged other farmers to follow the radio programme on agricultural extension services and said it would help them to increase their yields.
Mr Osman shared his testimony during a two-day meeting organised by the Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Farm Radio International in Tamale to evaluate the Digital Agricultural Advisory Service Strategy and Plan (DAASSP) radio programme on how to sustain and improve it.
Participants included representatives from the MoFA, Departments of Agriculture, a radio team working on extension messages for farmers, representatives of Farm Radio International, among other stakeholders.
The DAASSP radio programme, which began two years ago, is a 10-year initiative to help farmers to access the constant flow of information and advisory services on their farming activities.
It is being funded by the Global First of Canada to complement the government’s efforts at engaging more agricultural extension agents to meet the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s standards of 1:500 farmers.
The country’s current agricultural extension agents’ farmer ratio is 1:1,200 hence using radio and other ICT platforms to deliver agricultural extension services to farmers.
Madam Bridget Parwar, the Head of the Agricultural Department at the Zabzugu District Assembly, said the DAASSP radio programme had achieved a lot in the region, adding that through the intervention, “We were able to send timely messages to farmers to make informed decisions.”
Madam Parwar said farmers in the region had now embraced the best agronomic practices, which had helped to improve their yields resulting in high incomes for them and improved nutrition for the population.
Mr Paul Siameh, the Director, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services of MoFA, described the successes as gratifying and said they brought change to the lives of farmers.
Mr Siameh urged stakeholders, especially agricultural extension agents, to incorporate the innovative approaches learnt to deliver extension services into their daily activities at the regional level to improve extension service delivery.
Mr Benjamin Fiafor, the Senior Country Representative of Farm Radio International, shared his impressions about the meeting and said, “We are impressed with what we are hearing, farmers testify that it has been very helpful and want it to continue.”
Mr Fiafor said an E-extension strategy would be launched and used by all extension services directorates across the country, adding, “With this, we expect that the extension directorates will receive more support in terms of financials to enable them to implement a full strategy and plan across the country.”
By Albert Futukpor, GNA