“Urban Food Forest” and “Emergin Maize and Cassava Farmers”: FARA Technical Seminar

On May 24, 2018, Dr. Nana A. Kwapong and Dr. Bertrand F. Nero held a technical seminar series at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) secretariat on the topics:

  1. Woody species diversity, composition and socio-economic perspectives of the urban food forest of Accra, Ghana
  2. Ghana’s emerging maize and cassava farmers: what influences their decision to transition to larger farm sizes?

Woody species diversity, composition and socio-economic perspectives of the urban food forest of Accra, Ghana

Bertrand F. Nero presenting his research on woody species diversity in the urban food forest in Accra, Ghana.

Food bearing trees make up about 30 – 55% of the tree species composition of Accra at the neighborhood level and the

refore could complement urban and rural agriculture in feeding urbanites. These food bearing trees not only have the potential to provide critical micronutrients directly, they can also double as fodder and agroforestry species for urban crop and animal farming as well as provide several ecosystem services.
This study on woody species diversity was carried out by Dr. Nero, using a mixed method approach, where 105 respondents in six neighborhoods of Accra were interviewed, and over 200 100-m2 plots were surveyed across five land use types. Dr. Nero showed that home gardens in Accra harbor the highest amount of food tree diversity and this varies with the wealth status of the neighborhoods. Furthermore, high income neighborhoods have the largest home garden sizes and the most abundant food tree species albeit not the most diverse. Residents in wealthier neighborhoods showed greater interests in cultivating food trees in the city while people with higher education had a better perspective of the urban forests cover and benefits.
The dissemination of the study results generated the following policy recommendations:

  • Deliberate policies in favor of food tree cultivation or urban food forestry as part of measures to address urban food insecurity should be a national and regional priority in Africa.
  • Policies to reduce income and educational inequality in cities are critical to sustaining greener cities ideals enshrined in the sustainable development goals and reducing urban food insecurity.

Ghana’s emerging maize and cassava farmers: what influences their decision to transition to larger farm sizes?

Dr. Nana A. Kwapong – Ghana’s emerging maize and cassava farmers discussion

There is a growing number of medium scale farmers in Ghana. These emerging farmers moving from smaller to larger farm sizes are making notable impacts on the agricultural sector, however little attention has been given to the dynamic process of their farm growth. Dr. Kwapong’s study examined the characteristics of these emerging farmers and the factors that influence their decision to transition to larger farm sizes. 232 cassava and maize farmers were interviewed in the eastern region of Ghana. The key results of the study disseminated during the seminar are:

Farmers prefer to make incremental expansion, reinvesting their profit from sales of farm produce and income from other non-farm activities.

Farm expansion is a gradual process. Farmers’ decision to expand their farm sizes is based on their experience, access to agricultural extension services, access and availability of labor services and farmer practicing mono-cropping.

The policy recommendations that ensued the discussions are:

  • In forecasting and planning support for farmers, there is a need to consider the rate of farm expansion and the kind of assistance they need.
  • There is a need for integrating farmers’ knowledge in agricultural extension systems for more effective service delivery. Additionally, emerging farmers should explore labor saving technologies like mechanization in order to reduce costs and demand for labor.
  • There is a need for intensive farmer education to shift farmers’ perspectives towards farming as a business enterprise.








The seminar attracted around 30 participants; scientists and professionals from FARA and other institutions like the University of Cape Coast, Conservation Alliance, Young Professionals for Agricultural Development, etc.

Baking with plantain flour. BiomassWeb at Science Night in Bonn.

The BiomassWeb project is taking part in the 11th Science Night of the University of Bonn, representing  the Center for Development Research, ZEF, under the theme “Try and taste bioeconomy”.

One of BiomassWeb’s activities entails developing biomass-based value chain of plantain and reducing post-harvest losses through the development of value added products for small scale farmers and processors in two regions in Ghana. This research was carried out and implemented by our local partner, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Food Research Institute (CSIR-FRI), Ghana, supported by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

As a result of this activity, the CSIR-FRI, developed a series of recipes using plantain flour to supplement and reduce wheat flour in baked goods. Two of such recipes include plantain composite flour cookies and cupcakes. Come visit our stand at the Science Night on Friday, May 18, from 18:00 to 24:00, and have a taste of these goodies!

You can also find the recipes here in German. The English version will follow shortly.


Opportunity for publication: ‘Advances in food and non-food biomass production, processing and use in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards a basis for a regional bioeconomy’

the BiomassWeb project and the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn are co-editing a special issue in the MDPI journal Sustainability on ‘Advances in food and non-food biomass production, processing and use in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards a basis for a regional bioeconomy’.

The rising global demand for biomass as a source of food, feed, industrial raw materials and energy is increasing pressure on the agricultural sector. The situation is particularly severe in Sub-Saharan Africa where many countries struggle to attain food security while facing emerging alternative demands for biomass.
Therefore, it is crucial to safeguard food security and at the same time set the foundation for a prospective African bioeconomy. This will only be possible by harnessing productivity and efficiency gains throughout the entire biomass-producing, processing and trading system(s).

We are interested in manuscripts that highlight approaches to using common as well as neglected and underutilized African crop species as sources of food and non-food biomass, coupling and cascading uses of biomass, recycling of biomass and the use of biomass waste. Studies focusing on developing, modeling, and implementing land use systems, and bioeconomy strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa are also encouraged. Disciplinary as well as inter- and transdisciplinary studies are welcome.

We look forward to your contributions.


Daniel Callo-Concha, Manfred Denich, Hannah Jaenicke and Christine B. Schmitt
Guest editors

Further details: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/Food_Biomass_Production

Contact: Michael Nassl, mnassl@uni-bonn.de