A research conducted by the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI), in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions has indicated that farmers in the area make use of just 30 per cent of scientific agricultural practices introduced to them.
The research was conducted under the Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for Next Generation (Africa RISING) Project, which is being implemented in West and East Africa with several collaborators (farmers, researchers, policy institutions).
It is aimed at generating and disseminating technologies for adoption by smallholder farmers for improved livelihoods.
In Ghana, the project targeted smallholder farmers in the three regions engaged in crop (maize and cowpea) and livestock (small ruminants) production. Technologies generated in these areas were disseminated to farmers through the concept of ‘technology parks.
However, the trend of adoption of the technologies by farmers remains low, uneven, and it is a worry to researchers.
At a stakeholder engagement in Accra on June 17, 2022 to find solutions to the problem, the Head of Agriculture, Medicine and Environment Division at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the CSIR (CSIR-STEPRI), Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, noted that the current levels of adoption and use of farm services support is woefully and has little or no significance impact on the sector.
“For now, what we need to do is go after the 70 per cent that are left and find out why they are not adopting the technologies. Another challenge with the low uptake of such technologies is the inactive involvement of the private sector. Elsewhere, in the developed countries, research is sponsored by the private sector, so the results go to them. But in our case, because it is a public institution we don’t charge, so when we finish, we have to give it back to our financier,” he said.
He called for the need to adopt and use or invest in farm services support to help boost agric.
Experts say technology adoption is critical in achieving sustained productivity, improved food and nutrition security, as well as raising the incomes of farmers.
The CSIR-STEPRI has been collaborating with Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for Next Generation (Africa RISING) Project of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) since 2017 in the area of analysing policies that impact smallholder farmers, with the current one focused on the delivery activities on the impact of technology adoption, drivers of adoption, potential net gains and net losses associated with various technologies.
A representative of the Africa RISING, Fred Kizito, in an interview, acknowledged the inability of farmers to use some small farm machinery as critical.
Explaining how his orgnisation is helping in that regard, he said they have been playing a more engaging role by linking them to the vital small-scale artisans that can repair machines in case of damage.
“We have connected them to the Tamale Implement factory for and the GRATIS Foundation so even without Africa RISING IITA being present the farmers know who to go to.
“We have also provided brief videos that the farmers are using in YouTube in their local languages such as Dagbani and Gonja, so I think that is a step forward,” he said.
However, he said that despite the low adoption of scientific agricultural practices in the research areas some crops have recorded improved yields.
He said that for areas where farmers planted maize and cowpea as an intercrop, yields have increased by 30 per cent and farm income has increased by 20 per cent for those farmers.
“Prevalence of pests and diseases have also reduced as a result of the benefits that are associated with these kinds of technologies. More importantly is that farmers have learned something that is sustainable such that even at the end of the project, they will be able to move this forward,” he said.
Some key objectives of the stakeholder engagement included analysing the potential gains and losses in net farm returns, per capita incomes, and poverty rates of farmers who adopt sustainable intensification technologies/practices in order to inform policy decisions and private entrepreneurs.