In May and June 2019 we visited four villages in northern Ghana where N2Africa has been active and which have been included in N2Africa’s Impact Study. With the aim of adding qualitative context to the quantitative Impact Study, we discussed the experiences with N2Africa in an open way in individual interviews and focus group discussions with villagers.
When N2Africa commenced in the study villagers, many villagers were eager to learn about new farming practices that would generate a good cash return. Most respondents sounded very content about what N2Africa had brought them: technology options to experiment with that resulted in production increases, especially for soyabean. New varieties were much-appreciated, although they were considered too input-demanding sometimes. Very many respondents liked the method of fertiliser application in a furrow next to a row of seeds. This method was now used on legumes as well as on other crops for efficient fertiliser use. Respondents did not know or care much about inoculants, and they were considered difficult to access. Fertiliser application and row planting were considered very good but tedious practices and a larger workforce was required to get the work done, compared to broadcasting inputs. Labour was sought first in the family, and then among friends and labour groups. Labourers are scarce at the start of the growing season, when everyone is occupied at the same time. The starchy staple crops received priority in terms of land, labour and cash investment. If farmers had investment capacity left, they could invest in legumes as well.
N2Africa could only work with a limited number of villagers directly, and it differed per village whether information was pro-actively shared with people that were not directly involved. Those who took most initiative by themselves were most likely to be involved in projects and to benefit most from them. Respondents recommended future agricultural development projects to focus on improving varieties (short-duration, drought-resistant) and on mechanisation (land preparation and processing).