This past month, we have travelled to two districts in the Northern region of Ghana to meet farmers in rural communities. The road was often rough but our driver expertly avoided the potholes that the rain created in the dirt road. We departed early every morning for the communities so we could meet the farmers before they left for their farms.
Cows on the road in the village.While we greeted the members of the community in the local language, chairs and benches were brought and placed in a circle under the shade of a tree. Ghana has a large diversity of ethnic groups and languages and it’s a fun challenge to learn the proper greeting for each community we visited. In respect of the local custom, we accompanied our guide to greet the chief of the community to explain our presence, and to receive his approval before we spoke to the farmers. Once the members of the community had assembled, we began our presentation.
We shared information about good animal husbandry and spoke about providing shelter, feed and water to the animals. We also provided sensitization on disease prevention and control and proper maintenance of a shelter. By implementing these animal care practices, we hope that farmers will be able to increase their animal production as well as their income.
Following our presentation, we invited farmers to share their experiences with animal husbandry and we found their stories inspirational. Some of them had already improved their animal care practices and reported increased production, and were able to sell their meat and eggs at the market for additional income.
Although the communities showed a great interest in animal production, they also faced significant constraints. Major challenges preventing the start or expansion of animal production include limited access to water, medicine, veterinary services and start-up capital. High mortality rates due to disease also prevent the growth of their herd or flock size. The community members asked many questions and we did our best to address their needs and discuss possible solutions that could be implemented. We always tried to respect the local culture and way of thinking as we shared ideas.
We hope that sharing knowledge and skills with farmers will enable them to improve their animal production. By empowering farmers, they can become their own agents of change, and promote sustainable development in their communities to help improve their livelihoods.