The Tree Aid-Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has trained 60 female agricultural extension volunteers in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region to improve agricultural activities in the Municipality.
The one-week training was done by the Northern Ghana Integrated Development Project (NGIDP) with support from the European Union, and facilitated by officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in the Municipality.
At a ceremony to inaugurate the volunteers in Navrongo, Mr Paul Azure, the Project Officer of Tree Aid-Ghana, said the volunteers were taken through basic community entry skills, and were equipped with knowledge on basic agronomic practices of some selected crops including; cereals, legumes, roots and tubers.
He said the volunteers were also taken through basic agricultural extension services and approaches, the role of extension service in climate change adaptation and understanding climate resilient sustainable agriculture.
The volunteers were also schooled on seed selection and the use of improved indigenous varieties, integrated pest management, post-harvest handling of produce and basic animal husbandry.
“Our beneficiaries come from 20 communities within the Municipality. To the north, Yua, Natugnia, Amana Gumongo, Manyoro, punyoro, Manchoro, Nimbasinia and Saboro.
“To the South, Kologo, Biu, Gaani, Vunania, Gingabnia, Gongnia, to the East, Abempingo, Doba Sirigu, Nayagnia and Gia, Korania and Nangalikinia to the West.”
The Project Officer said the volunteers were people poised to transfer the knowledge gained to their colleague farmers in the communities they came from.
He noted that Tree Aid-Ghana worked with other NGOs, namely ActionAid which was the lead applicant, and Urbanet, a co-applicant on the project in the Upper East, Northern and Upper West Regions.
The project covered the Kassena-Nankana Municipality and the Builsa South District in the Upper East Region and Zabzugu and Tatale Districts in Northern Region, he said.
Mr Samuel Atia Ayamga, the NGIDP Coordinator said agricultural extension had tremendous potential to improve agricultural productivity and increase income through transfer and facilitation of scientific research, knowledge, skills, information and technologies to smallholder farmers.
“Unfortunately, Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) who are critical vehicles in delivering extension services to farmers are woefully inadequate,” he said.
He said the average ratio of agriculture extension agents to farmers was 1:1,850 in Ghana which was below the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) recommended ratio of 1:500, “This situation is even more serious for women farmers who accounted for over 70 per cent of total food produce in Ghana.”
To help supplement the effort of MoFA through extension services to farmers especially women farmers in the NGIDP Districts and communities, Mr Ayamga said the Project adapted the Female Extension Volunteer Model as a strategy to enhance female farmer’s access to extension services for increased productivity.
Mr Francis Ennor, the Upper East Regional Director of MoFA who inaugurated the volunteers, said there was about 46 per cent women involvement in agricultural activities in the Region.
He commended the NGO for the choice of women as agriculture extension volunteers, and encouraged them to take their roles as volunteers seriously to improve agriculture in their communities, “We expect massive change in the communities that you find yourselves.”
He assured the volunteers that the Regional and Municipal MoFA Directorates would ensure that they were given the needed support to enable them work effectively, and urged them to work closely with the agricultural extension officers in their communities.