For three years, Samira Ayi, a leader of Teebzo-oya Farmer Co-operative Association (TFCA) based in the Northern Region consistently lost her investment on her two-acre farm because of Striga parasite. As a result, she abandoned that piece of land for another but crop yields were still low. Striga can cause severe to even complete loss in crop grain yield. This was the nightmare experienced by other members of TFCA. They looked on helplessly as their investment went down the drain year after year until an intervention by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.
In 2018, TFCA benefitted from a BUSAC Fund sponsored Business Development Services (BDS) training facility. A consultant hired by the Fund, assisted the leadership of the association to identify the training needs of its members to find a lasting solution to the perennial problem and increase productivity. The consultant introduced members of TFCA to modules such as Avoidance of yield losses through pre- and post-harvest management. The training corrected the misconception held by the farmers that loss in yields was largely due to natural occurrences such as poor rainfall.
“I took a keen interest and followed through the improved good agronomic practices I learned. At the end of the season my two-acre maize farm yielded 36 (100 KG) bags”, said an excited Samira. This is particularly significant given that previously she harvested barely one and half bags of maize from the same piece of land. Haven learned that maize adapts well to different soil types with a pH range of 5.0 -7.0, she took the risk to farm on the land she had previously abandoned because of Striga infestation but this time around met the pH requirement. She also practiced good seed selection and planted a Striga resistant maize variety called Wangdaata recommended by the BUSAC Fund consultant.
The turnaround in production and boost in income is not limited to only Samira but many others who have not only seen increase in production but have been able to reduce post-harvest losses by about 40 percent.
Alhassan Seidu, the Vice Chairman of TFCA, says he no longer has to sell his maize immediately after harvesting for fear of losing part of the harvest to aflatoxins. Seidu and his fellow farmers have also learned not to process their produce on the bare floor but rather dry them on tarpaulins to avoid stones from mixing with the maize. “Now I know that if I harvest my produce and leave it for a long period before processing, it will grow molds and will be infested with aflatoxins. This season, after harvesting, I stored the maize with the organic formula we were taught at the training,” he said. “It is double gain for me because my yield went up from 30 (100 KG) to 70 (100 KG) sacks”, stated Seidu.
BUSAC Fund’s BDS Facility
The Business Development Services facility under BUSAC III helps Private Sector Organisations (PSOs) and Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) identify the capacity gaps, and skill needs of their members and address those needs with the assistance of certified BDS providers.
The PSOs, with the guidance of BDS providers, prepare training and coaching modules for their members. These modules address specific skill gaps to enable business entities to operate more efficiently and profitably.
With funding from Development Partners DANIDA and USAID, the BUSAC Fund’s BDS facility supports training on modules and topics within BUSAC Fund’s priority areas of Sustainable Agriculture, Trade, Cost of Doing Business, Green Growth and Human Rights-Based Approach.
Over 140 business associations have been able to provide capacity-building services to their members through the Fund’s BDS facility.