New farming technology introduced to farmers

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture

A new scientific  farming technology of producing hygienic and large quantity of vegetables without the use of soil dubbed ‘Soilless Vegetable Production’, has been introduced to two farmer groups in the  Bolgatanga municipality and the Bongo District of the Upper East Region.

The system makes use of locally available materials such as sawdust, rice husk, cocopeat and cow dung or poultry manure and these materials have the ability to retain water and release nutrients for the plant growth.

The farmer groups include the Nyariga-Doone Women Association in the Bolgatanga municipality and Bongo-Nyariga Cooperative Farmers Association in the Bongo District.

The project aimed at empowering the farmers to produce vegetables without necessarily demanding for land is being implemented by the School of Agriculture of the Department of Crop Science of the University of Ghana with funding support from the Skills Development Fund (SDF).

A senior lecturer with the Department of Crop Science of the University of Ghana, Dr. Eric Cornelius, explained that one could choose to mix the sawdust, rice husk and cow dung or poultry together under shade and water and compost for 12 weeks or one could mix coco peat and cow dung or poultry manure with water together which does not require any time to be ready for use.

“Fill substrates into nursery boxes which could be wooden boxes, buckets, plastic planting trough, plastic bags, among others and water and plant seeds directly or transplant seedlings into them,” he explained further.

The senior lecturer who urged the farmers to adopt the innovation indicated that the method was less expensive to practice because it is not labour intensive and does not require big land space to practice.

Dr. Cornelius who stated that crops grown using the soilless method were free from some of the soil diseases such as fungi and anima-dotes and also environmentally-friendly, indicated that with the new technology vegetables could be produced anywhere including cemented backyard.

He stressed that the technology which is more beneficial to women farmers would enable farmers to produce vegetables in commercial quantities to ensure vegetable security and augment their incomes and improve their livelihoods.

Dr. Colrnelius announced that two farmers including  a representative from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), would be given practical training at the University of Ghana  who would in turn replicate the skills acquired to their colleague farmers while the implementing team would be paying periodic visits to the communities to ensure that the right thing was  done.

An extension officer from the Bolgatanga municipal office of MoFA, Mr. Augustine Zoogah, lauded the initiative and said the knowledge that his outfit would gain from the training would be put into good use especially at the various operational zones to increase vegetable production in the region.

He pledged his outfit’s commitment to supporting the project to succeed and added that the successes of these farmer groups would be used as reference points to sensitise other communities to adopt and use the method to increase productivity.

The Coordinator of the Nyariga-Doone Women Association,  Reverend John Akaribo, thanked the implementing team and the sponsors for selecting the farming  groups to benefit from the support  and emphasised that  the initiative was a big relief to the women in particular since its practice did  not require acquisition of land which has been a major challenge for women smallholder farmers.

FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, NYARIGA-DOONE

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