The importance of access to agricultural technologies by our farmers continued to be a subject of much discussion during 2010. The key role that agricultural technologies play in improving productivity for farmer and the great impact that adoption of these technologies can make to livelihoods is recognized at the highest national level. Similarly, the many constraints to productivity and difficulties that affect farmers' access to appropriate technologies have been identified and various suggestions made. As these discussions continue, the challenge of feeding 24.4 million people in Ghana continues to be a cause for concern and severe challenges such as climate change emerge to complicate matters.
With a mandate to provide farmers in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions with appropriate technologies to increase their food and fibre crop production based on sustainable production system which maintains and/or increase soil fertility, SARI and its partners made good progress during 2010 that we are happy to share with you. These are captured under Scientific Support Group, Northern Region Farming System Research Group, Upper West Region Farming System Research Group and Upper East Region Farming System Research Group.
Nevertheless, work on the Emergency Rice Initiative Project with funding from USAID improved farmers' access to quality rice seed and fertilizer and expanded knowledge on best-bet rice technologies. The project reached out to 12,635 farmers in 27 districts in the three northern regions and increased paddy production by 28,663 tons. These farmers gained access to best-bet rice technologies through on-the-job training and videos on rice technologies. Rural radio and TV broadcasts on these technologies were also used to reach other farmers not directly involved in the project. Translation of rice technologies into 7 major languages namely Dagbani, Kusal, Dagaari, Gonja, Kassin, Sisali and Buli was one of the major achievements chalked by the project.
I am glad to report that SARI continued expanding it partnerships and collaborations so as to comprehensively and holistically address farmer constraints in Northern Ghana. SARI worked with partners to boost maize-based cropping system productivity in Northern savannah zones through widespread adoption of integral soil fertility management. Adoption of best practices by farmers resulted in maize yield of as much as 3-4 t/ha. Further studies on inoculation of soybean with rhizobium also resulted in 30-40% yield increase at farmer level. Work on the installation of the facility for confined field trial (CFT) on developing a Maruca resistant cowpea had made significant progress with a favourable regulatory decision by the National Biosafety Committee to permit SARI to conduct the first CFT in 2013.
I wish to commend the staff, management and Board of SARI for the excellent work that they continue to do. Bringing technologies on a royalty-free basis for use by farmers in Northern Ghana and doing that through partnerships and collaborations with others is no mean feat. I believe that agricultural technology can and should make a difference to our farmer' lives. To achieve this, business as usual will not get these technologies into the hands of the farmers- there is a lot more that needs to be done, some differently.
Looking back, 2010 was a good year for SARI and on behalf of the Management Board, I would like to most sincerely thank all SARI partners, donors, staff and Board members for their support and commitment to the fulfillment of the SARI vision and mission.
Dr. Stephen K. Nutsugah
NB: Copies of the 2010 Annual Report are available in SARI Library. Contact the Librarian for details.