About Agriculture Extension in Ghana

EDIT: The current team as of Summer 2011. Please look to Jimmy’s blog or David’s blog on Julien’s blog for a more recent understanding of the team’s work and a Junior Fellowship’s contribution.

The Agriculture Extension Team (AgEx) is the newly renamed MoFA team. The name change I understand is so that the EWB African Programs Team can more clearly be distinguished from the actual MoFA which is part of the Ghanaian government. This also allows us somewhat more flexibility in the future to evaluate and explore partnerships with non-MoFA partners, such as currently with Agricultural Colleges or with MoFA-oriented programs applied in other arenas such as the private sector (i.e. Agriculture as a Business Curriculum). It also most importantly identifies the particular value-add as a team that we are trying to address, that is strengthening the agriculture extension sector in MoFA, but also through NGOs and businesses.

The current team includes the African Programs Staff (APS) Ben BestBrian VenneDon D’SouzaErin AntcliffeMegan Putnam, Rebecca Peel, Robin Stratas, Siera Vercillo,  and Wayne Miranda, who have been in Ghana with PSA between 3 years to just a few weeks, and Summer 2011 JFs Bailey GreensponBill FuerthDaniela CorsettiElmira ReisiMarc-André Simard, and Tania Sanchez.

A brief history of AgEx ensues.

It all starts in the dusky dawn of EWB work in 2004. We were looking for a way to have impact in the long-term, and thought that it would require building relationships designed for long-term partnership. By building trust and understanding MoFA, we were able to start a system of feedback and mutual learning that has lead to improvement within MoFA and EWB work.

By using a prototype-pilot-scale model, by 2006 we were testing our approach with a posse of JFs. We found that the one-on-one approach afforded by constant volunteer contact enabled skill development, but sustained learning and improvement didn’t necessarily stick once JFs left the district.

By using the government system to scale-up our successful pilot projects, over the next few years we were able to support MoFA to implement monitoring and evaluation techniques and farmer extension tools to the national level.

In 2008 saw the successful Eat Ghana Rice campaign, perhaps one of my personal favourites of EWB work. More on that here:  http://www.ewb.ca/en/whatsnew/features/091214_ghanarice.html (and you HAVE to listen to the jingle). 

Slowly strategy has turned to examining attitudes and incentives to innovation and change. MoFA, from the Agriculture Extension Agents working with farmers to the District Directors of Agriculture who coordinate the district offices, needs to have better systemic mechanisms for learning, evaluating, and improving the way they strategize for and provide their programs.

In the past two years this has been articulated much more clearly, and we are currently trying to learn more about how to better communicate learning and good practices up the institutional ladder while maintaining field realities. We are also seriously considering how we can provide value to our ultimate boss, the rural farmers, whose lives we hope to improve. This includes an examination of our partnership with MoFA and its merits, as well as some experimentation with other development partners as mentioned at the beginning.

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