fbpx

University lecturer revolutionising agriculture: Rallying Ghanaians using social media

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo
Dr Kwekucher Ackah, Founder of Home Gardening makes a good harvest of plantain from his garden
Dr Kwekucher Ackah, Founder of Home Gardening makes a good harvest of plantain from his garden

There is a page on Facebook with the name Home Gardening which has begun a revolution in the agriculture sector, howbeit subtle.

With its pace and nature, however, this is certainly on its way to set an agenda that will most likely positively transform the agriculture sector and affect the nation’s food security.

With over 43,000 members on the page and receiving hundreds of requests to join daily, the page is steadily but surely reversing the psyche of thousands of Ghanaians and many across the world and encouraging them on the need to grow what they want to eat and eat what they grow.

From apples to strawberries, from lettuce to lemons, from avocados to cucumbers, basil to avocados, cassava to garden eggs, mushrooms, pomegranates, star-fruits to even fish farming, the group members are exploring various farming techniques and varieties of crops and animals firstly for consumptions and possibly for sale.

Food a necessity

Food is a basic necessity for humans and essential for our physical and psycho-social wellbeing.

What farmers earn from farming is also essentially a critical source of their incomes and makes them stable economically.

Indeed, for an agrarian economy such as ours, farming remains one critical source of foreign exchange for the nation.

In recent times and with the outbreak of the COVID 19, the need for individuals to have to feed themselves without relying on food from elsewhere becomes obvious and the need to adopt the tenets of “Operation feed yourself” made more sense.

One person, who, through it all, decided to take it a notch seriously, is the lecturer with the Department of Crop Science at the University of Cape Coast, Dr Kwekucher Ackah, is certain to significantly impact food production and security with his page.

On the page, members learn the right ways to cultivate crops, how to get remedies for pests and when to harvest. There are several questions on gardening and the experts there give answers to them to help one another.

Members show how their crops are faring in pictures and receive technical advice while others share seeds, compost, and ideas with others. They also celebrate their harvests with the page members with some sharing some of the harvests with interested group members.

When the Daily Graphic caught up with Dr Ackah at the university, he explained that he considered setting up the page in July 2020 to help many during the pandemic to grow their food to support their families.

Agricam home gardening videos

He said fired up by a commitment to teach people the right way to farm, he decided to shoot videos and upload on a YouTube page, Agricam Home Gardening.

“These videos essentially taught people how to start gardening the right way, using natural organic methods for safe crops,” Dr Ackah explained, saying, the remarkable response received on those videos motivated him to start the Facebook page.

He explained that with the increasing use of chemicals on farms, home gardening was very critical if Ghanaians had to eat healthy food.

Urban gardening

One interesting concept promoted on the page is how to use small spaces and containers to promote home gardening, especially in urban communities where land space is virtually unavailable.

The members are taught to utilise spaces and containers. Currently, the members are using old car tyres, plastic buckets old rice sacks, among others, for nothing is too small to be used.

“We also want to make use of the many old plastics to plant for gardening while making the environment safer,” he stated.

Dr Ackah said to make gardening attractive to many of the university students, his first-year students had begun a project gardening in containers in the halls of residence.

Dr Ackah said he, together with members, was working on planting fruit trees to mark the International Fruit Day and in support of the United Nations announcement of 2021 as the International year of Fruits and Vegetables.

Planting for Food and Jobs

Touching on the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs policy, Dr Ackah said while the policy was commendable, it was important that efforts were expedited to sell the policy in more attractive ways to every Ghanaian and not just a few interested in farming.

He said the policy should target reaching all Ghanaians with the need to grow their food. “Not much would change when few still get engaged in farming. It should be made attractive to all to make the needed impact,” he stated.

Again, he said Agricultural studies should be given attention at all levels and not be hidden somewhere in the curricula.  

Testimonies

A Level 100 Agricultural Business student, Ms Angelina Amoah, said she was happy to learn new ways of gardening considering the fact that land space was increasingly becoming scarce.

Mr Martin Awiah, also a Level 100 Agriculture Business student said there was a new lease of excitement as they learnt to undertake gardening in a fast advancing world. 

With Ghana importing more than US$2.4 billion in food imports annually, socio-eco-political actors have severally called on Ghanaians to grow the foods we eat and eat what we grow.

Maybe it is time to join the page, get to understand a few gardening tips, and contribute to reduce the import debt. You may get to eat healthy foods while reducing stress and may possibly end up saving some cash or better still earn some to supplement your income.