GINKS/IDRC Mfantseman Research
The Mfantsiman research was proposed to find how to harness the potential of indigenous and modern knowledge towards poverty reduction in Ghana. The overall objective of the study was to enhance information and knowledge sharing among underprivileged communities in Ghana by defining mechanisms and tools to generate and disseminate relevant local content using appropriate and acceptable ICT formats. The methodology employed a case study approach, which selected mainly women food producers in Atakwa in one of the less endowed districts in Ghana, the Mfantsiman district in the Central Region. It is hoped that the research would:
- Establish an ICT centre – Atakwa Community Centre for Agri-info Sharing through ICTs (ACCASI)
- Document for the people the general profile of Mfantsiman and Ekumfi-Atakwa
- Articulate the agricultural information needs of food producers in Atakwa
- Train community food producers in generating, repackaging, storing and disseminating agricultural content using modern ICTs
- Link food producers to appropriate holders of capital (knowledge, funds, markets, etc.)
- Build the capacity of Research Team in project management, networking, knowledge sharing and rural community advocacy and
- Develop a hand book of best practices and publish findings in journals
As part of GINKS/IDRC Mfantsiman research on “Mechanism and tools for generating and disseminating appropriate local content in Atakwa”, a number of activities have been undertaken since May 2005 and notable among them are
- Best practice tours both locally and internationally and desktop and web search on local content development and management to help inform the actions of the research team.
- Stakeholder mapping at national, regional, district and community level was undertaken to identify the information the key stakeholders hold and requirement for obtaining such information from them so that strategies could be employed to link them to the food producers.
- A baseline survey was undertaken to identify the information needs and sources of the food producers. A forum was held on March 21, 2006 to validate the results of both stakeholder mapping and baseline survey.
The major findings of the baseline was that women food producers in Mfantsiman district needed information on low cost credit and their major sources of information is internal such as relatives and other farmers. It is only on few occasions that they rely on external information sources such as extension agents and input dealers.
The fourth objective of the research is to ‘identify in a participatory way appropriate and sustainable mechanisms for linking holders of knowledge to women food producers in Mfantsiman district’. As part of this objective, a two day fora was held on 18th and 25th of July, 2006 at Ekumfi-Atakwa (selected community for the research) where major service providers in the Central region were brought to
- explain the agricultural knowledge they hold,
- what food producers they should link up with and
- What benefit food producers should expect from such linkage?
The service providers include Mfantsiman East district assembly, MoFA, Community development, Department of cooperatives, Non Formal Education Division (NFED) of the Ghana education service, Ghana telecom, Cape Coast, NBSSI (BAC), MOWAC, Cape Coast, Ghana Commercial Bank, Mankessim, Ekumfiman Rural Bank, Woode’s Café, Mankessim, Radio Peace, Winneba, and Gari marketing group, Mankessim. Other community level knowledge holders who share their knowledge with the group at the fora included the chief of Atakwa and the Assemblyman.
Some of the major outcomes of the fora are that:
- The financial institutions (Ghana Commercial Bank and Ekumfiman Rural Bank) encouraged the food producers to keep records of their production activities and cultivate the habit of saving with them so that they can easily obtain loans from them to help in their production.
- Community development is to link up with MoFA, Saltpond to establish a model farm at Atakwa for the ACCASI group (experimental group in the community) to help transfer knowledge from the model farm to their individual farms and the community as a whole.
- MOWAC has indicated their preparedness to link up with ACCASI club to extend their services to them and assured to even help them in marketing their gari to schools.
- Department of Cooperatives and NFED have expressed interest in nurturing the ACCASI group business management and group dynamics in general.
- Radio Peace shared their agricultural programme with the group and encouraged them to listen to them to help them improve on their food production activities. Radio peace is now broadcasting the activities of the food producers every 1st Tuesday of every month.
- The Gari marketing group explained the standards that they expect from the food producers and assured them that if they are able to meet the standards, they promise them of ready market.
- The woode’s Cafe explained how useful the internet can be in seeking agricultural information in the absence of community knowledge workers.
- The ICT consultant for the research took opportunity of the occasion to demonstrate how the mobile phone can be used to seek information from the bank and MoFA information center at Mankessim. Also the CD Rom was also demonstrated in the course of the forum.
The service providers and the other knowledge holders addressed all the concerns raised by the group concerning their food production activities.
GINKS/IDRC DRAW FINAL CURTAINS ON MFANTSIMAN RESEARCH PROJECT
The Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS), together with its international partners, IDRC, has after two years, seen the end of another successful project in the Central Region.
The project, which commenced some two years ago, was an initiative of GINKS to ensure that farmers and other traditional workers in Attakwa have easy access to information to improve their industries and generally, their daily activities. As part of its duties, GINKS trained both women and farmers in the use of the internet and other ICT facilities to enable them join the bandwagon of information sharing and its gathering.
In the two-phased project, GINKS commissioned an ICT center and also launched an ICT club, ACCASI. The ACCASI club represents information gathering and sharing in the area of agriculture, with the sole objective of enhancing the people’s livelihood.
The Coordinator of GINKS, Mr. Ibrahim Inusah in his Exit remarks on behalf of GINKS, advised members of ACCASI club who had and continues to benefit from the project in diverse ways to also share the knowledge gained since that was the aim of GINKS. He said information empowers people to do and achieve more hence the beneficiaries of the Project should equip themselves with the information that was being provided by GINKS and make good use of it. Mr. Ibrahim Inusah assured members of the community that replicating a similar project at Mfantsiman West depended on the willingness of the Funding Partners and the successes chalked at Atakwa.
In a brief speech, Prof. Kwesi Andam, the special Guest of Honour and the Chairman of Board of Directors of Rural Heritage expressed his appreciation at the work done by GINKS. He therefore promised to honour some members of GINKS and the Research team during the Akwambo festival in September this year. He also thanked GINKS for the role they played in paying the utility bills of both the library and ACCASI. He revealed that repair works on the double decker bus which was used to convey students to the library had been completed and that he was motivated to repair the bus by the wonderful innovation of GINKS in the library. He indicated that the bus repair was possible as a result of savings made for not paying the library utility bills since GINKS took over. He also thanked the ACCASI club members for their participation and wondered about their active participation even at their age. He therefore pledged to extend help to them whenever possible.
Executive certificate was also presented to the management of the ACCASI club and were advised to be accountable and make every effort to meet their commitment fee obligations to the government each year.
Dr. Egyir inaugurated the MPAP Team and presented final laminated copies of the Sustainability Plan to members of the team namely: ACCASI Cub, GINKS, Rural Heritage, DADU, District Assembly, AEA, Ahmadyyia Mission, Chief and Elders of Atakwaa, Non-formal Education Division, Department of Community Development and Department of Cooperatives.
The ACCASI Club entertained the invited guests and the crowd with an exciting drama. The drama explained how new knowledge gained (row planting technique) from the use of ICT (computer) could help in food crop farming (high yields). It also portrayed how finance for production activities could be obtained from a bank and the consequences of defaulting repayments. Finally the usefulness of the mobile phone in arranging and following up contracts with respect to financial institutions and traders was shown.