This article was originally written by IESC.
Improving Food Safety Systems Project Trains 170 Farmers on Best Agricultural Practices
Madam Elizabeth Zutali, a 41-year-old vegetable farmer, was struggling to increase the productivity of her small farm in Tuba, Weija in the Ga South Municipality in Accra, Ghana. Although agriculture is part of her family’s livelihood and history, Madam Zutali had little knowledge on how to improve her vegetable crop yields. She took a loan from the bank last year to try farming chili, but the crops died off before harvesting, which cost her a lot financially. Ms. Zutali decided not to farm chili again.
However, after attending a two-day on-farm training delivered by the Improving Food Safety Systems Project (IFSSP) under Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Special Program Support Project (SPSP) in February 2017, Madam Zutali changed her mind and decided to pursue vegetable farming once again. “Now I know the importance of soil testing and how it’s done, this amongst other training I have received today has brought back confidence to return to chili farming again,” said Madam Zutali.
In February 2017, 170 vegetable farmers participated in a hands-on and interactive training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The purpose of this training was to improve farmers’ knowledge of and ability to use agricultural best practices to ensure their produce can meet safety standards and market requirements. “The farmers were a little skeptical in the beginning about the training and wary of taking chances on new technologies,” said Oghenekome Onokpise, a volunteer from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University who led the training. A professor of agronomy, Onokpise, said the farmers became much more enthusiastic and engaged once they started practicing the techniques themselves. He believes this kind of training can go a long way to improve vegetable production in the country.
The participants were proud and confident in vegetable farming following the training. Ms. Zutali and her husband, Mr. Tetteh Oman, are working together to apply the knowledge she acquired during the training. On their 1.5-acre plot in Tuba, the pair are currently producing chilies, tomatoes, and okra. They are very hopeful that the new production methods they apply will lead to improved yield and increased profits.
“I am convinced that farming chili is profitable if I apply all the information I have learned from this training,” Ms. Zutali cheerfully stated after the training.
The Improving Food Safety System Project (IFSSP) is Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by USAID and awarded through Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA). IESC (International Executive Service Corps) is implementing this project in partnership with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). IFSSP is providing market-based solutions to generate buy-in for adherence to sanitation and phyto-sanitation (SPS) standards and participation in a traceability system. The project will also strengthen the SPS compliance system for Ghanaian fruits and vegetables and facilitate collaboration between the public and private sector for active growth in productivity and export trade.