With files courtesy of Mark Kudafa
Elvis Asare takes a radio broadcaster through his farm. He gestures to his recently harvested rice field, golden with newly cut stalks of rice.
It’s January, and it’s harvest time for rice in Hohoe in the Volta region in eastern Ghana. Farmers like Elvis are reaping the benefits from a new program on Volta Star radio.
“Through this information my life is better. I say it is better and I know this year it will be more better because I have seen change in my life,” Elvis says.
The program talks about improving rice production by encouraging farmers to adopt new farming technologies through the use of information and communication technologies like text messaging, radio, and — in the future — video. It also tries to make linkages between farmers and aggregators, who buy the rice.
Elvis says he’s learned about how to use urea deep placement, a fertilization method proven to increase yields while also reducing fertilizer use. And he’s already seeing a difference on his rice yields.
He says on the two acres of his farm where he didn’t get put the fertilizer he expects to get about five bags of rice. On the four acres where he did use the fertilizer, Elvis expects to harvest about 100 bags.
“When I used the fertilizer I was very excited. You can see if it weren’t for fertilizer, I wouldn’t have got this,” Elvis says, gesturing at the harvest around him. “My wife also is very happy because we all know that this year the weather did not favour us. But when my wife came and saw this, she was very happy. At least we can get what to eat and we can sell some to get our clothes, for us to live this year.”
Now Elvis says he wants to spread his knowledge to other farmers in the area.
“I will tell my farmer colleagues they should listen to the radio and when we listen to the radio we should practice about what we are listening so we see the change.”
He hopes other farmers will see similar gains on their own fields.
The radio program that helped Elvis increase his yield of rice was made possible through USAID’s New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund. This project focused on using a scalable, integrated suite of ICT-based services to cost-effectively drive behaviour change and help Ghanaian farmers increase their yields of six target crops (maize, rice, soybean, cassava, yam, and cowpeas), thereby improving food security.