Empowering Women Through Better Agriculture and Improved Yields: Farmer Field Schools in Ghana Benefit Women Groundnut Growers
In northern Ghana, groundnuts (or peanuts) can be an important source of both nutrition and income for female farmers like Ganabi Insuidor. As a staple crop primarily cultivated by women, groundnut production can empower women through agriculture. USAID’s global nutrition project, Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING), applied a multi-sectoral approach to combat stunting and anemia in northern Ghana from 2015-2017. One of our interventions, farmer field schools (FFS), targeted female groundnut farmers using an on-the-farm training method to promote good agronomic practices in cultivating the nuts to increase yields and make them safer.
Our FFS curriculum focuses largely on preventing aflatoxins in groundnuts. Aflatoxins are caused by molds that grow on crops when they’re not properly harvested, dried and stored. Contaminated groundnuts can lead to poor nutrition and, in turn, stunting. SPRING trained workers from Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture to guide participants through modules on good pre-harvest and post-harvest practices, including site selection, planting, weeding, harvesting, drying and storing. Improving agronomic practices means healthier groundnut crops, but could it also empower the women responsible for growing them?
Ganabi Insuidor, a groundnut farmer in Kayareso community in Ghana’s East Gonja district, had trouble growing enough nuts to both feed her family and sell in the market before she joined SPRING’s FFS in her community in 2016. Ganabi began using the promoted practices and shared them with some of her neighbors. That year, her yield increased from 11 bags of groundnuts to 15 bags, allowing her to sell more of her crops at the market. In addition to having a greater yield, Ganabi’s groundnuts are safe to eat. She plans to use the additional income to send two of her children to high school and support her oldest at university. Ganabi was also recognized as East Gonja District’s Best Groundnut Farmer that year. She said, “To me, the significance of the award is neither about the souvenirs nor the large quantity of groundnuts produced. Rather, it is about the confidence and self-worth that have been imbued in me.”
From 2015-2017, SPRING trained nearly 20,000 groundnut farmers in northern Ghana through FFS, most of whom were women. We developed additional resources to further promote good agronomic practices, including an illustrated job aid, community drama video and facilitation guide. Through these tools, women like Ganabi have been able to improve their farming practices and increase their yields, leading to healthier food for their families and greater economic opportunity.