Special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger

Green innovation centre Ghana

Maize in a bowl

Maize and rice are two of the staple foods for the people of Ghana. Although demand for these is high, farmers lose around 40 per cent of their crop each season: while some plants become infected with diseases whilst in the field, part of what is then harvested goes off as it is not stored correctly.

The lack of suitable storage facilities is a particular problem since farmers who do not have access to proper storage are forced to sell all of what they produce directly during the harvest season, when they can only command a low price. As a result, the money they earn is not enough to allow them to invest in storage capacity. With the help of the green innovation centre, measures are to be introduced which will now help farmers in Ghana to break through this vicious circle.

What is so innovative?

Increasing maize production: Some varieties of maize from Ghana are ideally adapted to the country’s soils and its climatic conditions. The green innovation centre helps to ensure that farmers are able to obtain these adapted varieties of seed through so-called farmer based organisations (FBOs). It also advises agricultural extension officers from the public sector on issues such as tillage, seeding, harvesting, storage and transportation. The green innovation centre is planning to work together with PTB, Germany’s National Metrology Institute, in order to guarantee quality controls for maize products.

In the dryer instead of on the street: Together with a select group of farmers, the green innovation centre is testing solar maize dryers. Up to now, maize has usually been dried on the street where it quickly becomes dirty. The innovation centre also provides support for warehousing operators at municipal level, thereby giving farmers’ cooperatives a professional storage solution for their products in future. Selling maize after the season has ended fetches much higher prices, resulting in an instant rise in farmers’ incomes.

Creativity required: An innovation fund is available for smallholders and processing companies from the local food sector. The fund provides an investment grant for anybody proposing an innovative business idea.

Our objectives

  • To increase income for 75,000 smallholders by 28 per cent
  • To create 1,000 new jobs
  • To provide education and training for 75,000 smallholders

Routes to success

Until recently, maize farmer Albert Amankwa would dry his maize on the ground in front of his house. Every year, this would produce the same annoying result: "The maize would go mouldy following repeated downpours. Lizards and insects then set about eating my crop and contaminate the maize." No buyer was willing to pay a high price for this maize, leaving Amankwa with little income.

Thanks to the solar dryer, Amankwa’s situation has now changed. The young father now shovels his grains into the long tube of the dryer, through which warm air is blown by two fans. The solar dryer does not need electricity or diesel, just the energy it draws from the sun. Amankwa is impressed: "The dryer removes 25 per cent of the moisture from one tonne of maize within the space of a day. What I harvest now remains free of vermin and insects, leaving me with maize of the highest quality for which my customers are paying almost 50 per cent more than last year."

The dryer is easy to transport and can be used anywhere. This means that Amankwa does not need to take his harvest to the dryer, but the dryer comes to him instead. Thanks to the green innovation centre, smallholder producer groups now have these machines at their disposal.

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