Northern Ghana is producing more maize than ever before. This is mainly thanks to an aid programme with a focus on sustainable maize farming. The initiative has helped 10,000 farmers in Northern Ghana. It has improved the position of women farmers as well.
The Sustainable Maize Programme teaches farmers sustainable farming techniques. The maize harvest in programme areas in Northern Ghana has increased from an average of 1.8 tonnes to 4.5 tonnes per hectare over the past 7 years. The result is a higher income for maize farmers, greater food security in the region and more equal opportunities for women farmers. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the Sustainable Maize Programme. It does this through the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV).
Lack of knowledge and climate change
Many people in Northern Ghana depend on farming to survive. Until recently, the farmers in the region knew little about modern agriculture methods. The soil there is sensitive to erosion. Farmers can also expect long periods of drought or heavy rainfall caused by climate change. Because of this, farmers only yielded 1.8 tonnes of crops per hectare.
Bossman Owusu is the head of communications at Solidaridad West Africa. It is a network organisation for sustainable development. He explains how new knowledge has boosted maize production. “We were able to help 10,000 farmers with modern knowledge. The new techniques have increased yields considerably. The farmers now apply better methods for cultivation and other tasks. They also use high-quality seeds and compost.”
Mr Owusu is proud of the results. He says there is nothing better than improving other people’s living conditions. “We are happy that many farmers now have access to good-quality food. It is good that they can earn long-term income from the sale of their products, too.”
New storehouses ensure food security
The sales of maize have improved as well. Cooperatives now offer many farmers access to the market and a way to earn more stable prices. Also, new storehouses guarantee that food will be available to the farmers and their families when they need it. Mr Owusu states, “We have truly helped people escape poverty and made them able to cope better.”
Of the 10,000 farmers who have benefited from the programme so far, 20% are women. That is more than double the percentage before the programme started in 2013. Back then, fewer than 10% of the farmers in the maize supply chains were women.
Women benefit from changed local norms
Solidaridad and other partners also worked to change local norms. These norms were an obstacle that kept women from taking part in the programme. Women farmers also received extra support in marketing, business skills and land access. “Some of the women are on their own or have husbands who do not support them. Now, even these women can provide good food for their families,” Mr Owusu says.
Partners in the Sustainable Maize Programme
The cooperating partners are:
- Savanna Agriculture Research Institute
- Solidaridad West Afrika
- Technoserve Inc.
Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV)
Would you like to help achieve sustainable goals in developing countries? A public-private partnership can help you.
FDOV is now closed. You can apply for support from the SDG Partnership facility (SDGP) during a tender opening.