MESA stewards continue to grow their knowledge – and share it forward – far beyond their time as Stewards. Upon return to his home in Ghana, Abraham Yidana developed his own NGO “the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA).” Through Abraham’s work, a MESA SPRIG grant of $400 towards the project has multiplied and grown to benefit the broader community. Abraham reports back on their current efforts with CSA’s Poultry Project:
There is always no place like home! Family, friends, farming, weather, sharing food and knowledge, tradition and love are the things that define my home. Generally the 2014-2015 farming season has been awesome amidst challenging agriculture situations for farmers; expensive scarce farm inputs, unreliable rainfall, drought. The Ebola pandemic in parts of West Africa has also posed a lot of worries and brought a lot of distress to sister countries even
though Ghana was fortunate not to have recorded a case. Through all this, I am enjoying home and loving the
work I do as a farmer and a trainer.
How are you using the knowledge or experience gathered through MESA today?
After my wonderful experience a MESA steward, I am living proof of the multiplier benefits of MESA. Work with my home country farmers has been much fulfilling and successful than I ever imagined. With the formation of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, who’s core aim is to help farmers achieve food and income security via sustainable agricultural initiatives.
I work with a wide range of highly diversified farmers in one of the most deprived districts in my country. I provide
practical technical training to farmers while being open to new ideas via demonstrations. One most challenging situation is that most farmers are illiterate and hence every information you pass on to them has to be demonstrated and they see the benefits of it before they decide whether to adopt or not. In the light of this, I have done several
demonstrations works with my farmer groups In the just ended farming season. Some of such demonstrations include, maize sorghum and soya trial plots, rice fields with my women group and the ongoing poultry project. It all started with a $400 Home Country Project support I received from MESA.
Tell us about The Poultry Project – what are its goals, and how will you measure success?
CSA can say proudly this is the first of it’s kind in this part of the country. Farmers over the years have depended solely on crop production as their main source of livelihood despite the numerous challenging situations associated with crop production here in Ghana. The introduction of a more sustainable, diversified way of farming is the heart
of CSA hence the filling in of that niche.
The goals of the project are:
-Giving farmers an alternative source of livelihood
-Improving upon the local breeds of chickens in
the locality via cross breeding with the carefully selected breeds of chicken.
-Equipping farmers with necessary training
skills with regards to poultry rearing.
There were several considerations CSA did
before embarking on this project, including:
Type of bird? In consultations with a few
selected farmers and interviews, in a typical Ghanian community, there are more
hens than cocks. What does this mean to CSA? This provides a solution to CSA
problem of how to help improve the breeds in the community. Cockerels will be
the best option in this case so they can cross breed with the local hens and
subsequently produce progenies that are more resistant to diseases and well
adapted to the environment.
A total of 1000 day old chicks were bought from
a reliable hatchery here in Ghana. Birds were first cared for until after 2
months of age and then released to carefully selected farmers.
Who should benefit? This was the most
difficult task for me as a leader. I quickly had to develop a strict criteria
for selection because almost the entire community was interested and obviously
CSA couldn’t meet such a budget line. Beneficiaries were interviewed, homes
inspected, possessions of a traditional hen house, locally designed drinking
troughs, feeding plan for the birds, must have kept local birds or should poses
some, knowledge on care and local treatment of unhealthy birds, ability to
identify unhealthy birds etc.
Location? Birds have were distribute in 8
Period of commencement? I planned my activities such that it coincided with the harvest
season. This is to say the birds were realized during harvesting and hence
there was enough feed for them also for good growth and survival.
Resources? I tried as much as possible to use
the resources available In the community. Birds were raised in one of the communities
called kubori. From feeding (no commercial feed) to housing was based on what
Farmers receive training sessions from the very beginning of receiving birds till the
distribution stags, as well as regular visits, advisory services and
trainings. They were visited frequently to see the
progress of work and to monitor indicators necessary for evaluation and final
report at the end of the project. I am now in the initial stages of the
evaluation process. Several indicators are been used to measure the success of
the project. Eg. The rate of survival of the birds (mortality), growth rate,
benefits of raising poultry, income level, knowledge acquired, impact of the
project on their lives, protein needs etc.
What else is on the horizon?
Isn’t it amazing that a $400 grant from MESA could achieve so much in the first phase of the project and how does CSA plan to sustain these
projects?! CSA is again developing a new proposal as a
build up of the first and this new idea makes provision for sustainability..
To our MESA supporters, I want to say thank you for the immense
support and encourage you give both to stewards to MESA. Let’s keep up with the
good work and together we can build a bigger better community for improved
lives across the entire globe. PEACE