Sulemana Becomes a Profile Farmer for SHI

Sulemana at a workshop for Profile Farmers by SHI

In the past, Sulemana, a 46-year-old farmer and father of six needed to eke out money from his limited resources to hire farm hands to assist him in planting maize on his one-acre farm at Fankamawe in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

However, after he enrolled as a profile farmer with the Agricultural and Entrepreneurial Development (AED) Research Centre at Nkwakrom in the same region, he was taught how to use the Manual Hand-Push Planter at a training program at the center in April this year.. The Hand-Push Planter is designed to make the planting of maize and other seeds less tiresome and time consuming.

“I used to hire five farmhands to help me plant maize on my one-acre maize farm at the cost of 50 Ghana Cedis per farmhand. It was not possible for the farmhands to finish planting my field in a day so on the second day, I will hire four farmhands again to continue and finish with the planting.”

But as a Profile Farmer of the AED Centre, Sulemana was given access to the planter with which he had been trained. With the assistance and direction of personnel from the center, maize seeds were successfully planted on his farm in May this year without the need to hire farmhands.

In addition to the maize being planted, fertilizer was also applied on his field at the same time since the planter carries out the dual activity of planting and fertilizer application at the same time.

“In the past, after hiring farm hands to plant the maize, I will also hire them again to assist me in applying fertilizer to the crops after they have germinated. This year, both the planting and fertilizer application was done by the planter, saving me the money I would have spent on hiring farm hands to carry out both tasks.”

“In addition, the planter was able to plant in areas that the farmhands normally find difficult to plant because it is beyond their human capacity. Hence, my entire one-acre field was covered with seeds and no part of the land was left idle.”

Sulemana with Profile Farmers and SHI staff

The idea of nurturing profile farmers in rural areas served by the AED Center is to use such farmers as a model for demonstrating the impact of modern agricultural technologies on crop yields. Their farms will serve as demonstration farms for other farmers while they will also help them to adopt agricultural innovations through peer to peer learning.

In this regard, five profile farmers from four different communities have been trained to use modern technologies in planting and applying fertilizer to their crops, to implement good agronomic practices and also  take the necessary action to improve upon the nutrient content of their soils through the adoption of soil improvement technologies such as biochar compost.

The AED center was established by Self Help International in Ghana to carry  out research in agriculture and make recommendations to farmers based on their outcomes. This is in a bid to boost agriculture in rural communities by introducing them to research based and scientific ways of crop cultivation as well as new technologies to help boost their yields and raise farmers incomes. This forms part of an overall strategy to reduce rural poverty by stimulating rural economies.

Commenting on how being a profile farmer has impacted on his life, Mr Sulemana said having access to the planter alone has brought a big change in how he plants and fertilizes his field.

“I am happy to be a profile farmer and I am looking forward to harvesting more crops this year by following all the agronomic practices that they have introduced to us,” he said.

Sulemana using the Manual Hand-Push Planter