USAID/ADVANCE II Project: Leveraging Stakeholder Support for Enhanced Smallholder Farmer Access to Agriculture Extension Services
URBANET has received funding from USAID/ADVANCE II to advocate for better access to agricultural extension services in the Northern Region in 2018. URBANET will work in 20 communities across four districts, Mion, Yendi, Gushegu and Chereponi, to collect and distribute information about the current quality of extension services at the community and district level, give a platform for farmer’s voices, and organize meetings with key stakeholders. URBANET will use the community scorecard methodology to enable farmers to analyze the quality of extension services in their communities, as well as allow the Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) and the Ministry of Food Agriculture (MoFA) to self-evaluate their services.
Half of the total labour force in Ghana is engaged in farming, forestry, fishing and hunting according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (2010). Despite producing almost 80% of food crops in Ghana, farmers in the northern regions rarely reach the full achievable yield (MoFA, 2012). AEAs are the direct source of agriculture information and technology for farmers, which can help to improve crop yields and productivity. The role they play is especially important as many smallholder farmers are not literate and cannot read agriculture extension manuals or instructions on farm input materials. However, the numbers of AEAs are extremely inadequate, with a ratio in the Northern Region of 1 AEA to 5000 farmers. Furthermore, funds allocated to AEAs by MoFA are inadequate, and often released late, if at all. Therefore, often AEAs are unable to pay for fuel or transport to visit communities, and are not able to maintain demonstration fields or support farmers to the capacity needed.
This project will capitalize on the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program, which aims to strengthen the agriculture sector in Ghana, including by hiring more AEAs and improving extension services. By raising farmer’s voices, and presenting evidence of the current, poor agricultural extension services, this project will pressure the government to use the resources allotted under the Planting for Food and Jobs program to improve extension service delivery and ratios of AEAs in the Northern Region.