Observing the success of agroecology
Training of communities on sustainable farming approaches and providing indigenous seeds has improved families’ nutrition, income and soil fertility. So Venter Mwongera, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator at ABN, learned on her recent trip to Tamale, Ghana where she was hosted by ABN partner, Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems (RAINS). There she spoke with Haruna Salifu, an indigenous farmer. This is his story.
“I have been a farmer for more than three decades. Indigenous seeds and the hybrid yield differently, even when the rains are insufficient. Hybrid seeds are readily available, although they are not resilient, are prone to diseases and can’t be replanted in subsequent seasons. Their yield is less than the indigenous seeds.
The indigenous seeds are scarce to find. I looked for them from all the nearby markets, but they were not available. The few farmers who had didn’t have enough for their use and to also share with a fellow farmer. While searching for the indigenous seeds, I heard about RAINS, who had information about the indigenous seeds and successful farming without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides to control pests and diseases on crops.
Training and revival of indigenous seeds
Messrs. Kamel and Mohammed (may his soul rest in peace), who were officers from RAINS, came to revive the lost and indigenous seeds we used to plant in our farms. They brought indigenous seeds of red beans, red corn, guinea corn, Bambara beans, millet and sorghum that we planted and grew well. We found those seeds more resilient. Despite the presence of pests and disease, they withstood such attacks and yielded better. We could use the same seeds to plant in subsequent seasons. When cooked they are tastier than the hybrid seeds. Also, I grow yams on my farm.
Officers from the RAINS helped me with 15 yam seeds. I planted and propagated these seeds, which grew in numbers. I sold some yam seeds for GH 150.00 each while also sharing them with my fellow farmers. Over three years now, I have more than 350 yam seeds. In 2020, the year was a difficult one. Covid-19 affected many activities due to the shock it brought to us and its effect on the economy. We were all advised to avoid physical meetings to avoid contracting the deadly virus. Amidst these challenges, I propagated 25 yam seeds which multiplied to 60 seeds in the same year and increased to 70 in 2021. Each year, I increase the number of yam seeds on my farm. I used to farm the yam in a small garden. Now, I have to look for larger farmland for yam farming to feed my family, increase production, sell to fellow farmers and increase families’ nutritional balance as yams are nutritious.
The women also farm the indigenous Bambara beans, which we use to support ourselves during the Ramadan season. Besides the supply of the indigenous seeds, RAINS gave us training on organic manuring techniques. I use this knowledge to prepare manure from my animal droppings, farm residues and composting. I put the ready manure on my farm and the fertility of my farm has improved. The crops I plant have given me bumper harvest each season, unlike in the past when I used chemical fertilizer with dwindling outputs.
The problem I’m handling now with manure is transportation to the farm. We prepare large heaps of compost and use tricycle or tractors to carry it to the farm as it is heavy and too much to carry on our back to the farm. However, getting a tractor or tricycle to transport the green manure to the farm is a major challenge. At the moment, I still have a lot of prepared composite manure left at home due to my inability to transport it to the field. This is a challenge affecting most farmers in this community.
The indication that the green manure is good for our farmland is the appearance of earthworms. So, we are grateful to RAINS for teaching us about successful farming without using chemical fertilizer and providing indigenous seeds. My gratitude to RAINS for leading us through this eternal path of benefits.”