Agriculture is the backbone of Ghanian economy and central to the Government of Ghanaian development strategy. The agriculture sector employs more than 75% of the countries workforce and accounts both directly and indirectly for approximately 51% of Ghanaian gross domestic product. The Ghanaian population is growing by approximately 1 million people per year. Combined with stagnant agricultural productivity and limited arable land, this demographic growth poses critical challenges to food security. Only about 20% of the land is arable, yet maximum yields have not been reached in these areas, leaving considerable potential for increases in productivity. Most farmers work without basic agricultural inputs or updated technology and lack adequate financial or extension services.
ARA responds to these challenges by implementing agriculture and environmental projects together with vulnerable, rural communities mainly in the central Region of Ghana. Our immediate goal is to improve the family well-being through agro-economic development and environmental stewardship. We strengthen the capacity of rural households, labourers, landless and also communities affected by HIV/AIDS enabling them to take control of their own development.
Approximately 80% of Ghanaian farms are small plots run by rural farmers, and if they are equipped with knowledge of best agricultural practices and with basic inputs such as improved seeds, they are able to maximize yields of diverse crops to feed themselves, their families and their communities. ARA targets rural populations with interventions to improve yields, incomes and nutrition practices to bolster the continent’s ability to feed itself, and its ability to eventually help feed the rest of the world.
Unlike traditional approaches to agricultural extension, which rely on extension workers providing advice to farmers, farmer field schools enable groups of farmers to develop solutions to their own problems.
We use innovative and participatory methods to create a learning environment, including learning networks, in which the beneficiaries have the opportunity to learn about particular crop production problems, and ways to address them, through their own observation, discussion and participation in practical learning-by-doing field exercises. This approach enables farmers to investigate, and overcome, a wider range of problems, including drought resilience, soil productivity improvement, conservation agriculture, control of surface runoff, water harvesting and improved irrigation.