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Sustainable Agriculture

We have a project in Ghana entitled: 'Reducing Injury & Environmental Damage from the use of Agro-Chemicals in the Volta Region' (described below), and we are supporting some initiatives in Sierra Leone that are improving food security for rural women through cooperatively-managed seedbanks.

Background

In 2008 the Network of Rice Farming Associations submitted a proposal to the Environ Foundation (in the US) concerning the effect of agro chemicals on farmers in Volta. The Foundation liked the idea but was concerned about some aspects of the proposal and asked us if we could help the group develop the basic idea. In 2009 we worked with NETRICE to design a survey of 200 farmers in the region (to find out about their knowledge/use of chemicals) and we built a database to analyse the results. And in early 2010 we visited Volta to consult with the groupís board and local groups and visit chemical sellers. We subsequently submitted a joint proposal to the Foundation, and in April our bid was approved. The project should be completed by the end of 2012.

Project Objectives

The projectís objectives are to:

a) establish a small farmers' resource and information centre in Hohoe, with internet access and a library of basic reference materials on good agricultural practice and the safe handling and disposal of agro-chemicals;

b) train 500 local farmers in Integrated Pest Management and the safe use of agro-chemicals; and 150 chemical sellers from the region in the basic principles of using sprays and powders;

c) deliver talks to 50 local schools (2,500 students) on the importance of treating chemicals with respect/care and being aware of the dangers;

d) produce and distribute 200 posters to schools, chemical sellers and farmers' associations in the region, and organise 10 radio broadcasts; and

e) provide coaching for NETRICE's Board/Executive and key Associate Members in computing, information management, proposal-writing and reporting.

The top photo is of one farmer spraying his crops: the only protection he has is his wellington boots -- and some farmers don't even have that.