Notes to broadcasters
Growing rice in Ghana is a big challenge, mainly because of poor quality seed. The demand for rice has recently increased and, to meet this demand, a lot of rice is imported from countries like India, Pakistan, and Thailand. The Northern and Upper East Regions account for about two-thirds of the rice grown in Ghana, but many of the small-scale rice farmers who dominate the local rice industry lack access to good quality seeds.
Most of the rice varieties grown are poor quality and attract low prices. Also, rice production in Ghana is rainfed, and the poor rainfall in recent years has not helped rice growers. Even though there are irrigation facilities spread out across the rice-producing areas, the total amount of irrigated agricultural land in Ghana is still small.
Another challenge is that farmers still practice ineffective farming methods in most parts of the country.For all parts of the rice value chain to function effectively—including growing, processing, trading, and marketing—farmers also need good threshing platforms and good storage facilities. High post-harvest losses and poor milling of local rice are additional challenges. There are some ricefarmer groups, but they lack skills in networking, lobbying,negotiating, and advocating for better policies.
In this script, Lydia Ajono looks at the challenges of producing rice seed in Ghana and how farmers are making efforts to overcome these challengesby learning how to use improved rice seed which increases yield and meets the growing market demand for rice in Ghana.
You might choose to present this script as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on growing high quality rice seed, or related topics in your country.
Talk to farmers and experts who are familiar with growing rice seed. You might ask them:
What are the major challenges to farmers planting high quality rice seed in this area?
Have some farmers or experts found solutions to these challenges?
If so, could these solutions be used by more farmers?
Estimated running time: 12-15minutes, with intro and outro music.
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We will also hear from Mrs. Benedicta Atosona Gyamfi, a technical officer at the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute, also called SARI, in charge of rice production. She will tell us how she has been training rice farmers on demonstration farms.
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I will be interviewing two farmers here. The weather this morning is hazy, smoky, and dusty, making visibility very difficult. But farmers are already busy preparing their rice nurseries, and getting ready for a very busy period in the next two or three weeks. Joining me are two farmers, and I will let them introduce themselves.
Right now, I use a rope to ensure the right spacing between and within rows.Some farmers prefer the traditional varieties and believe that they do not do well with this kind of planting. But the changes in weather and in the pattern of rainfall are forcing many farmers to change to the new rice varieties.
The Savanna Research Institute, which we also call SARI, has three main objectives in its quality rice development project. The first one is to increase the yield of rice. The others are to increase market access and to build the capacity of farmers’organizations.
Right now, we have 16 community demonstration farms, and we were able to reach so many farmers through these farms. One of the main farming techniques taught at these demonstration sessions is weed management. Farmers are learning a step-by-step method for transplanting rice seedlings in rows with a 20 centimetres by 20 centimetres spacing. This also helps to control weeds before they mature. Farmers also learned how to safely use herbicides at Farmers Day, and this is one of the most important ways of managing weeds in rice production.
These new practices include: levelling the land with tillage machines, transplanting rice seedlings into rows using a rope method, not mixing varieties,and using new higher-yielding varieties that are well-suited to the new planting techniques and irrigated conditions.
Tune in to this station at the same time next week for another informative program. Bye for now.
Contributed by: Lydia Ajono, Executive Director of Radio Gurune 99.3 FM, and Community Radio Facilitator, Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN)
Reviewed by:Boubakary Cisse, Rice Seed Expert/Project Coordinator, AfricaRice, Tamale, Ghana
• Gilbert Atanga,rice farmer, Yorogo-Kuakua, Bolgatanga, Ghana, interviewed onNovember 16, 2015.
• Iddrisu Akolbire, rice farmer, Bolga–Nyariga, Bolgatanga, Ghana, interviewed on November 16,2015.
• Benedicta Atosona Gyamfi, Principal Technical Officer, Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), Ghana, interviewed on December 19,2015.
• Besa Akpalu, District Director, Biokoye district, Volta Region, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, interviewed on August 29, 2016.
This script was supported by The New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund, which is funded by several donors, including the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative through USAID, UK Aid from the UK Government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.