Africa RISING Project Holds Workshop

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The CSIR-STEPRI as part of its partticipation in the Africa RISING PROJECT has held a workshop  to validate findings of research it has been undertaking. The Workshop was held under the theme:

"ASSESSING INSTITUTIONS ENABLING OR CONSTRAINING ACCESS TO OUTPUT AND INPUT MARKETS BY FARM HOUSEHOLDS AND DELIVERY PATHWAYS FOR SUSTAINABLE INTENSIFICATION TECHNOLOGIES/PRACTICES"

Background

Smallholder farmers face multiple constraints both at the production and marketing levels. Farmers access to input and output markets remain limited. This affects not only the incomes of producers but also the welfare of other actors within the production and marketing value chains. Low soil fertility, reduced land sizes for production due to urbanization, environmental degradation, low incomes, limited finance, and low technical know-how are some of the constraints facing smallholder farmers in developing countries. A number of policies and programmes have been implemented by various governments aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. However, the desired impacts have been low due to various factors: poor implementation, limited involvement and support from private sector, lack of political will, weak enforcement of regulations, and low adoption of technologies by target beneficiaries.

Consequently, the Africa RISING Project is being implemented in West Africa and East Africa with several collaborators (farmers, researchers, policy institutions etc.) aimed at generating and disseminating technologies for the adoption of smallholder farmers for improved livelihoods. In Ghana, the project targets smallholder farmers in northern Ghana engaged in crop (Maize and Cowpea) and livestock (small ruminants) production. Technologies generated in these areas are disseminated to farmers through the concept of ‘Technology Parks’.

The Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI) has been collaborating with the Africa RISING Project since 2017 in the area of analyzing policies that impact smallholder farmers. STEPRI is currently collaborating to deliver two main sub activities:

 1. Assess institutions enabling or constraining access to output and input markets by farm households (particularly youth and women) and

 2. Identify and assess delivery pathways of sustainable intensification practices/technologies to leverage and engage with existent initiatives including government extension systems.

 The main outcome of STEPRI’s activity is that farmers and other value chain actors have greater and equitable access to production assets and markets (input and output), through enabling institutions and policies. Also, improved policies and institutional arrangements to increase participation of farm families, especially women and youth in the output and input markets and decision-making are developed, advocate for implementation by national governments, policy makers and development partners.

Workshop Goals and Objectives

The main goal of the workshop is to gather more inputs into the study report and share widely the findings and recommendations of the report for greater policy and institutional support at various levels (District, regional and national level).

Justification- The policy environment and smallholder institutional context influence the success of scaling-up projects and it is crucial to first understand the different contexts to be able to formulate strategic dissemination and scaling-up or out models for sustainable scaling up/out outcomes.

The key assumption was that smallholder farmers adopt sustainable intensification practices if they have access to effective input and output markets, which will lead to increased productivity and incomes. As such, the study took into account Sustainable Intensification (SI) indicators, gender, food security and nutrition, and climate change issues in the analysis.

To achieve the above, a household survey involving 448 households was conducted to understand the dynamics surrounding farmers access to input and output markets. Focus group discussions were held to validate some of the issues gathered during the household survey. Furthermore, Key Informant Interviews with various stakeholders (lead farmers, researchers, Agricultural Extension Staff, business advisory service providers, input dears, traders etc) were conducted insights generated on the delivery pathway adopted for SI technologies and the institutional and policy gaps that needs to be addressed. This stakeholder event is meant to share the research findings and get inputs from the wider stakeholders working to improve the living conditions of farming households.

In her welcome address the Director of CSIR-STEPRI, Dr. Mrs. Wilhemina Quaye thanked the project team for the work done so far and urged  other project teams to work harder to make CSIRSTEPRI a household name when it comes to policy related research.SHe prayed for closer collaborative research to enhance the policy environment withinh the agricultural sub sector.

The first presentation which was an overview of the project was deleivered by the leader of the team, Dr. Adbulai Adams. Dr Mavis Boimah Dayie/Dr Livingstone Ceaser jointly delivered the second presentation.This saw the duo making know the findings on The Delevery Pathways of Sustainable Intensification of Technologies/practicesand the role of government extension service.These were followed by a questions and answer session after which the participants were grouped for disciussions of the issues at stake. The last segment of the workshop was the Plenary Reports, Discussions and Validation.