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Email: ashc@cabi.org

A  soybean campaign plan for Ghana

10 January 2017 The GALA team writes: In the framework of the GALA project we are exploring how effective different media, and combinations of media, can be at encouraging farmers to trial and/or adopt improved legume technologies. There is a specific emphasis on how different promotional approaches impact on women and younger farmers. GALA works under the umbrella of the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) in tandem with other partner projects that support implementation of scale-up campaigns.

Our work with the ASHC since 2011 has helped to develop a library of exemplar information material in all formats. Now ASHC is working with partners to implement a scale-up campaign-based approach to deliver information on integrated soil fertility management to farmers. ASHC has learnt that designing campaigns to ensure they either run alongside input delivery systems – or integrate activities to ensure access to inputs, is key. Therefore, in GALA there is also a strong emphasis on sustainable supply chains that give farmers access to inputs and market development to help them sell surplus crops. So, information and inputs are being developed simultaneously. We are working with a number of partner organisations but in particular with Green Ef and the input providers they represent – including YARA Ghana, Legumefix and Heritage Seed.

Developing a campaign for a country requires us to have good knowledge of the communications options. It is also essential to know what inputs farmer can obtain. This has led us to a focus on inoculant use – but to do so in the context of the range of inputs and how they work together.

In Ghana the GALA-ASHC team has identified a series of dissemination channels, including print, film, and village meetings. Printed materials will be developed in English, however the film elements will be delivered in several of Ghanian languages.

We will be working with the award-winning Countrywise Communications Ghana to produce the promotional films for the campaign. We are planning village-based screening to attract family audiences. Using a motorbike and trailer Countrywise can get film screenings set up in rural villages in even the most inaccessible areas of Ghana.

GALA is also looking at technologies that will allow films to be passed between smartphone owners, so that small-scale farming households can watch the films as often as they wish.

At the core of the communications experiment in Ghana will be 75 screenings of a series of short films on soybean inputs, agronomy and post-harvest value-additions. In addition we will be holding also 21village meetings without film screenings. We will be piloting several different print formats for distribution to farmers to see which proves most effective .For example, one version could be a traditional leaflet, whilst another could be a poster. An extension manual and agro-dealer poster will ensure that the professional input, available to farmers, will be consistent with the core messages of the GALA campaign. The GALA team will commission all these materials in the coming weeks. The campaign will culminate in a series of events designed to open up access to the inputs recommended by GALA.

The next key task is to look at what soybean promotional activities, promoted by sister projects, will be happening in Northern Ghana. These are likely to include radio promotion, demonstration plots, training and the distribution of printed material. Wherever possible the GALA team will seek to support and augment these projects, sharing resources, information and data.

The soybean campaign will run initially for one season, but if additional resources can be accessed the project can pick-up in subsequent seasons. The campaign is due to start on 1 March 2016 and will take place in the Northern Region.