Spill Over Effect
How curiosity leads to yield and quality increase
Bumpy roads, small villages and elephant grass, line the route from Accra down to the rural area called Fievie in the Volta Region. Only one hundred kilometres east of Ghana's capital, you will find rice fields stretching across hundreds of hectares. The dry season has just started and the rice farmers have begun to harvest.
Rebecca Torsah, a smallholder rice farmer, sits on the edge of her rice field in the shade of an improvised awning. The 38-year old stands up and smiles proudly while glancing at her rice field, which is almost ready for harvest. Turning to her farm neighbor Julius Kwadzo Amerku, she says in Ewe, the local language, with relief clearly shown in her expression:
“The rice will be good this time and the yield even better crops.”
Julius is the lead farmer of his farmer cooperative and considers himself the link between the farmers and Fysso, a paddy off-taker in the area. Fysso is a matching fund partner of the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI), a project that supports trainings for smallholder farmers to improve their farming practices. Julius participated in the good agricultural practice training - and both quality and yield of his paddy increased after he applied the recommended methods. So did his income. Increasing smallholder farmers’ income is one of CARI´s main aims. Since 2014, CARI has reached more than 750,000 farmers and their families in four African countries (Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria) improving their livelihoods and food security.
Over the last seasons, Rebecca had been observing the development of Julius' rice field with admiration.
"His yield must have increased from 2.5 mT/ha to at least 4.5 mT/ha",
she explains. Julius' very green and well-maintained field had been attracting her attention, especially in comparison to her own field, which began to turn yellow. Out of curiosity, she asked Julius to reveal his secret.
He took a closer look at his neighbor's field and immediately instructed her to apply fertilizer to avert quality and yield loss.
"Rebecca was certainly fortunate because I still had some fertilizer left," Julius says satisfied. According to the crop calendar, it was already the latest point to apply fertilizer onto her field, but the result was convincing.
"Now my whole family is looking forward to harvesting soon, considering how green and fruitful our rice field is.”, Rebecca says smiling.
Rebecca expressed her interest in becoming a member of Julius' cooperative. Having a contract with an off-taker or a rice mill gives her the opportunity to receive inputs on a per-financed basis and to produce high quality rice. Moreover, Rebecca is looking forward to the opportunity to participate in such a training, learning more about land preparation, planting, seeds, fertilizer and harvest!
This story describes the positive spill over effects of knowledge and sustainable improvement of the rice sector, as well as how curiosity leads to yield and quality increase.