the rain Dance
Many of the communities in the Upper East Region of Northern Ghana are experiencing droughts. Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon leads the ”rain dance” during one meeting with farmers. An hour later, it rained, drenching the parched soils of the Kassena-Nankan District(Photo credit: IITA/ Katharine Lopez)

Mid July 2013, a team from the Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) program and donor representatives visited project intervention sites in Northern and Upper East Regions of Ghana, to observe and monitor project progress.

The team was composed of USAID representatives led by Jerry Glover, senior project advisor; Tracy Powell, and Biniam Iyob (all from Washington, DC); and Justice Ajaari, new IFPRI M&E Specialist, based in Tamale. They were accompanied by Project Coordinator Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, Africa Rising West Africa and East/Southern Africa Projects; Asamoah Larbi, IITA’s Country Representative in Ghana, Chief Scientist for Africa Rising West Africa Project and Farming Systems Agronomist for Africa Rising-Ghana, based in Tamale, Northern Ghana; and Katherine Lopez, Africa Rising communication focal point for West Africa.

The team met with project beneficiaries that included farmers and their families, producers, extension workers, and local leaders in the intervention communities—mostly under the trees or in community buildings, but also directly at the research sites. They discussed challenges in the farming communities, Africa Rising interventions, and feedback on the projects and research experiments.

The following intervention communities in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region (UER) were visited: Sabulungo, Bongo District; Nyangua, Bonia, and Tekuru, Kassena-Nankan District.

In the Northern Region (NR), these communities were visited: Duko, Salvelugu District; Tibali, Gbanjong, and Tiborgunayili, Tolon District.

In these communities, mother and baby trials have been set up to demonstrate cropping and sustainable intensification technologies with selected farmers, extension workers, local partners, and community leaders. Through this approach, communities learn about new and improved varieties, enhanced agronomic practices, better farming procedures, and crop and livestock integration.

According to Asamoah Larbi, the visits enabled the team “to see what is exactly happening on the ground and how farmers and beneficiaries perceive the project’s interventions.” Farmers and their families, including children, and sometimes led by village elders, came to the meetings to welcome the visitors and partners through dances and testimonials, provide feedback about the project, and also to say “thank you” to IITA, USAID, and national/local partners for the new technologies and knowledge that they are gaining from the project.

“I am impressed by what I have seen,” said Jerry Glover, after visiting the communities. “In the first year of the project, we worked with a lot of partners on quick-win projects; in the second year, we saw the coming together of various projects, which has provided opportunities for Africa RISING to build on successful experiences that would help farmers and move the project forward.”

Farmer-partners in the various communities said that they are happy working with Africa RISING because they learn about improved varieties and practices. The women farmers voiced out their appreciation for “being carried along and for interventions that consider the participation of women and youths.”

Irmgard Zeledon thanked the farmer-participants taking part in the various trials and experiments and assured them and the communities that Africa Rising will continue to help address their challenges to ensure food security and livelihoods improvement. However, she also pointed out that the success of the project would depend on the farmers themselves.

Story by Katherine Lopez (IITA)  
This story was published as part of an Africa RISING special issue of the IITA Bulletin (1 August 2013)

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