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