4R Learning Centers Address Knowledge Gaps for Smallholders in Northern Ghana
The 4R Solutions Project has established multiple learning sites aimed at improving the agricultural knowledge and skills of women and men smallholder farmers, and extension agents particularly in applying crop nutrients to northern Ghana’s key cereal and legume crops.
Access to relevant and up-to-date information on the best crop and nutrient management practices required for good crop yields has been identified as a major constraint to enhanced crop productivity in northern Ghana. Smallholder farmers in the region mainly rely on extension agents as a source of knowledge on best agricultural practices. However, the high ratio of extension agents to farmers often means that the few extension agents available are not able to deliver up to date advisory services to farmers at the right time. In addition, extension agents also often lack platforms that provide them with new information on best crop and nutrient management practices based on recent research outcomes.
Baseline studies conducted by the 4R Solutions Project indicated that majority of smallholder farmers in northern Ghana lack requisite knowledge on aspects such as the right quantities of fertilizers to apply to specific crops and for certain yield targets, the right time and method to apply fertilizers for different crops, and the most suitable crop varieties to plant based on local conditions.
To address the skill and knowledge gaps identified as major hindrances to initiatives aimed at enhanced crop productivity, the 4R Solutions Project has established multiple 4R learning sites aimed at improving the agricultural knowledge and skills of women and men smallholder farmers, and extension agents particularly in applying 4Rs for key crops in northern Ghana. In the current season, a total of twenty-four 4R learning sites have been established for both maize and groundnuts, the key cereal and legume crops in northern Ghana respectively. Established in collaboration with researchers from the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), and other key stakeholders, these learning sites are demonstrating the best ways for farmers to implement and adapt 4Rs concepts of “using the Right Source of nutrients, applied at the Right Rate, at the Right Place, and in the Right Time.” In addition, the 4R learning sites are providing locally relevant information on best crop management practices for maize and groundnuts.
For maximum impact, each of the 4R learning sites have been established on centrally located farms within community settlements in the focal project districts of Nanumba North, Nanumba South, East Gonja, and Kpandai. In each learning site, the project team is partnering with local extension staff to actively involve and train farmers during key crop production stages such as planting, fertilizer application, and pest and disease control. The 4R learning sites are also serving as effective platforms for researchers from SARI and APNI to equip extension agents with up to date information on best crop and nutrient management practices based on recent research findings. Further, these sites are also serving as ideal locations for holding farmers’ field days, where more detailed and practical training on best crop and nutrient management practices based on the 4Rs is regularly conducted.
The 4R Solutions project’s implementing partners are Fertilizer Canada, Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF-Canada), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), IPNI Canada, and African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI). The project’s local cooperators in Ghana are Send Ghana and Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI).
APNI Contributor: Dr. Samuel Njoroge, Project Manager – Nutrient Stewardship, East and South Africa
4R Solution Project https://4rsolution.org/