Though more than half the labour force is involved in agriculture, the World Food Programme classifies Ghana as a food-deficit country. Yet there is strong potential for improved productivity in crops key to food security, including maize, rice, sorghum, cassava, yam and cowpea. Agricultural extension officers are an invaluable resource for farmers looking to increase yields. Extension officers demonstrate the benefits of different methods to manage disease or pests and advise farmers of the benefits of improved seed varieties or fertilizer. But agricultural extension officers cannot be everywhere. Many farmers living in remote areas are infrequently visited by extension officers.
Radio, video, text messaging, mobile apps and other information communication technologies (ICTs) can reach more farmers more frequently with quality agricultural advice, and can complement traditional extension services. Using ICTs, this project aims to extend the reach of agricultural information, improve the efficacy of local extension services and promote lasting behaviour change among small-scale farmers, so they can increase yields and improve food security.
This project brings together Grameen Foundation and Digital Green with Farm Radio International to reach 200,000 farming households in five regions of Ghana, with FRI’s participatory radio programs airing in Brong Ahafo and Volta regions. This project will combine radio and ICTs for participatory radio services that allow farmers to learn about agricultural improvements and provide feedback so extension officers understand their information needs. Participatory video will complement radio in helping to explain more complicated agricultural improvements. The technologies used are scalable and reliable, allowing for important agricultural information to reach more farmers, more frequently.
The New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund is a component of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which aims to address constraints that prevent small-scale farmers, especially women, from increasing their output. The challenge fund is supported by several donors, including the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative through USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Aid from the UK government. This project is also working closely with the New Alliance Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership (SSTP) implemented by AGRA.