IUCN organizes fair for smallholder farmers

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Access to input dealers, extension services and market opportunities have been identified as major challenges facing smallholder farmers and agriculture value chain actors in some communities in northern Ghana.

agriculturalTo help address these issues, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has organised a fair dubbed: “Dryland product trade fair,” in Bolgatanga for some smallholder farmers in the Upper East and Upper West regions.

This is to help create linkages among the stakeholders in the agriculture value chain.

It was organised under the auspices of Creating Lands of Opportunity: Transforming Livelihoods through Landscape Restoration in the Sahel (LOGMe), a three-year project being implemented in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Niger.

The project has funding support from the Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security through the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

In Ghana, it is being implemented in collaboration with the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the A Rocha Ghana, an NGO in eight communities in four districts.

The beneficiary communities are Awaradone and Yameriga in the Talensi District, Gbango and Tarikom in the Bawku West District, Dalaasa and Naadema in the Builsa South District, all in the Upper East Region, as well as Nanchala and Sakalu in the Sisaala East District of the Upper West Region.

The fair, which brought together about 100 smallholder farmers, afforded them the opportunity to showcase their products, interact with value chain actors for improved service delivery and build networks and linkages with potential customers.

Ms Dorcas Owusuaa Agyei, the National Coordinator of IUCN, said the project aimed to empower communities to contribute significantly towards landscape restoration while creating income generating opportunities for the beneficiaries.

She said apart from training them on sustainable agricultural practices, the beneficiary communities had been introduced to irrigated vegetable production by providing them with solar powered mechanised boreholes.

They were also introduced to agroprocessing to add value to raw products and other alternative livelihoods interventions like soap making using low-cost materials.

She said her outfit assessed dryland products, which revealed a disconnect between farmers, input dealers, processors, intermediaries, marketers and consumers.

She said the main purpose of the event was to support the farmers with livelihood enhancement opportunities and to display their products as a means to promoting the value chain for dryland products.

Dr Julius Yirzagla, a Senior Research Scientist with SARI, said climate change impact was hitting hard on the agriculture sector, which called for climate-smart and sustainable agric production to help communities adapt to the changing weather.

Thus, the project, through a Sustainable Value Chain Development Plan, introduced and trained smallholder farmers on best agronomic practices, and improved/ high yielding seeds, particularly soya beans and maize, he said.

Mr Sulemana Matthew, the Talensi District Director, Department of Agriculture, stated that climate change was likely to push a lot more people into food insecurity and poverty, hence the need to adapt.

He commended IUCN and its partners for building the capacity of the communities to adopt climate-smart agriculture.

Ms Christina Akolgo, a member of the Awaradone Women smallholder farmers association, said the project had provided an alternative source of livelihoods for them during the dry season.

She said the fair had given them the opportunity to get connected with major actors in the value chain to improve production.

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo, GNA

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