Boost in soybean production as farmers embrace a new technology

Business News of Sunday, 21 October 2018

Source: Diana Ngon


Soybean Farm.jpegSoybean farm

Some smallholder soybean farmers in the Sandu Community in the Savelugu municipality of the Northern Region have begun using best agronomic practices to improve their crop production.

According to them, they harvested over 10 bags of soybeans on an acre of land in 2017 as compared to 2016 where they harvested less than 15 bags on 2 acres in 2016.

The increment according to the farmers is due to the innovative farming method introduced to them by the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) collaboration with Countrywise Communication providing training best farm management practices for over 3000 farmers across the northern regions.

Soybeans farming has become very popular in the Northern Region due to the increase in demand for soybeans. About 3000 farmers in the north now cultivate soybeans alongside other food crops such as maize, millet and yams

An Agronomist, Dr. Ernest Nketiah at the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Program revealed that the country import soybeans to meet its industrial needs.

‘We spend a lot of money to import soybeans even though we have the potential to produce soybeans locally. It is very important in terms of nutrition and also for the livestock industry’, he said.

Farmers in this sector are often confronted with challenges including poor agronomic practices which have negatively impacted on yields.

Fortunately, the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) collaboration with Countrywise Communication, are addressing this challenges using videos as a means of demonstrating the best practices in farming Soybeans.

The Communication Specialist at CABI, Mr. Duncan Sones, said the idea of the video message as a tool to disseminate agricultural information is to bring the entire family together to get the first-hand information.

‘What we are interested in is that we have the mother the father and children coming together to watch this film and learning at the same time and also further spread the technology to other farmers, this is helping to improve the agronomic practices’. He noted.

The Director for Countrywise Communication Raymond Vuol, explains that ‘The messages have been translated into eight (8) local languages. We move from one community to the other with the video van mounted on a tricycle. The Van is made up of a generator set, projector and screen’

He continues, ‘‘The Screening officers, mount the projectors in the evening after meals with scores of community members including women and children coming in to watch the agricultural video messages.’’

The Soybean campaign message demonstrates some best agronomic practices such as land preparation, planting in rows and spacing, pest and weeds control, fertilizer application and post-harvest management.

Issah Alhassan is a 49-year-old farmer and one of the over a hundred farmers in the Sando community who has been introduced to soybeans innovations farming technology.

‘Previously, I use to practice the broadcasting method, I broadcast and the tractor comes to plough on a two 2 acres piece of land and I harvest only 10 bags of soybeans. But with this new method, I decided to plough only 1 acre of soybeans last year (2017) and I harvested 8 bags. Meaning I would’ve had over 15 bags if I had ploughed on the 2 acres of land like I use to farm.’ He added.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UK aid funded technology is expected to reach about 45000 farmers in 150 communities in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

However, for Ghana to attain the sustainable development goal two (2) which is aimed at ending hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, government and stakeholder needs to widen and intensify education on modern agricultural practices in the agricultural value chain.

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