It is estimated that 250 million children under the age of five do not receive enough vitamin A. In Ghana, 72 per cent of children under five are found to be deficient. Deficiency in vitamin A can lead to blindness, lower immunity and other developmental challenges.*
Farm Radio International, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is using radio and other ICT tools to combat this situation across Africa. The orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) project was implemented in Ghana in 2013 and is getting positive feedback from many groups.
A key element of encouraging families to incorporate the orange-fleshed sweet potato into their diet has been to show just how easy it is to cook, and how delicious it tastes. Many families in Ghana regularly eat a sweet potato that is dull yellow, rather than bright orange. Some have been reluctant to incorporate the orange vegetable into their diet.
Gizaw Shibru, the director of operations for Africa believes the Ghana office has found an innovative way of communicating the OFSP messages to farmers by using a cooking show.
“I visited Cape Coast, the site of one of the cooking shows we do for the orange-fleshed sweet potato, and I saw our team talking not only about OFSP, but showing to the community’s mothers and children how the OFSP could be cooked and used. And once it is cooked also they feed the children.
“It is done on the school ground. It was one thing which I have never seen happen in Farm Radio and it is one thing that really impressed me very much.
“I went around to talk with some of the farmers there and there were some people — about four people — who came all the way from Togo listening to the radio program, and they are asking me when Farm Radio would come and start the same program in Togo.”
Gizaw also said he has been impressed with the impact FRI has had in Ghana, building strong partnerships with radio broadcasters and having a big impact on the ground.
Since Farm Radio was established in Ghana in 2007, we have trained and partnered with local stations, Ministry of Food and Agriculture agents as well as other international organizations. Our growth would not be possible without support from the management of FRI. Hear what Gizaw had to say about FRI’s work in Ghana:
“Since we started, the first three years were mainly research. After that we grew fast here from the humble beginning of a one-room office and now we have more 15 staff, with another extension office a field office in Tamale — the demand is there the need is there. So I see many projects coming for Farm Radio here in Ghana and this office is going to be, for your information, our kind of regional hub as well. I see a lot of growth happen in the past and I see a lot of growth for the future for Ghana as well as a lot of growth for the future.”
With dedication from staff, active participation from farmers and radio broadcasters, FRI in Ghana is on its way to achieving its long term goal of providing every Ghanaian small-scale farmer with timely and relevant information that makes an impact on rural livelihoods.
Learn more about our project to reduce vitamin A deficiency with orange-fleshed sweet potato.
* World Health Organization. Ghana Health Service, Ghana Food Fortification Baseline Survey.