In September in Ghana's Ashanti region, WFP organised a series of full-day training sessions for all members of 13 farmers’ organisations participating in P4P. Held in Ejura, the capital of the Ejura-Sekyedumase district, the training was an opportunity for the farmers to refresh what they had learned a year ago in a comprehensive training on agricultural production by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) through funding provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). It was also a most welcome opportunity to learn more about post-harvest handling, storage and marketing ahead of the next marketing season.
Beginning the training, a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture spoke to the assembled farmers about basic principles of marketing. Farmers were interested to learn about the positive effects that aggregation and joint marketing can have on the price they receive. Other issues in this session were how to improve the quality of the farmers' produce and the importance of growing only one variety - which makes a crop much more interesting for buyers, especially from the private sector.
In the following session, a member of the Crop Research Institute based in Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti region, engaged farmers in a lively discussion on how to grow their crops. From the right way to plant seeds to the use of fertilizer and questions of irrigation, farmers had the opportunity to discuss their most pressing issues – mainly focusing around access to inputs, post-harvest handling and how to store their crops best.
Representing WFP at the training, Procurement Officer Thomas Yeboah held a session on how farmers can sell to WFP – a topic attracting a lot of interest from the farmers. Under P4P, WFP is piloting different approaches such as direct contracts or modified tenders, enabling low-capacity farmers’ organisations to sell to the Programme if they can meet WFP’s quality standards.
One important aspect of being able to sell to WFP, and other private sector buyers, is good quality – a topic covered in the last session by a representative from A&G Agro Industries, one of P4P’s private sector partners. Speaking about moisture content amongst other related topics, the practitioner demonstrated the use of moisture meters and visualized the differences by displaying samples of varying maize qualities.
At the end of a long day, the attending farmers were very content with the day’s results, and fully motivated to get to their fields again – to produce more, get a better quality, fetch good prices, and improve their income. P4P and partners will now jointly visit the farmers’ organisations over the next months to find out whether farmers can use what they learned in the trainings. After that, P4P will also collect information on the impact of the trainings for farmers who used what they learned and share emerging lessons.