ASHC putting three more countries on its map
5 August 2017: The ASHC team is looking ahead to the new campaigns to support partner projects in East and West Africa… Soybean, cassava and bananas are all in the mix.
The ASHC funding agreement requires that the majority of the work has to be conducted in one or more of five priority countries Ghana and Nigeria in the West and Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda in the West. This means the team to scout for opportunities where it can make an impact at scale.
Over the last two years ASHC has been refining different and nuanced partnership approaches, to find the appropriate way forward in each specific location. In Tanzania, ASHC helped facilitate a large group of partners to come together to create the Legume Alliance and this loose affiliation of partners has resulted in an IDRC-funded program. In Ghana, a much smaller group has been working on a soybean campaign – which has proved a useful springboard into Nigeria. In Uganda and Nigeria we have been able to join larger research programs and concentrate on how communicate the benefits of the new technologies to farmers and other key stakeholders.
In Ghana and Nigeria, the private sector is now a key partner in the roll out of the soybean and integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) campaigns. ASHS has a fresh approach to campaign delivery partnerships that is more focussed on embedding sustainability.
The ASHC team been seeking out private sector partners to promote uptake of technologies such as rhizobium inoculant. For a long-time these technologies have only been available in research institutions. Developing information campaigns can only be effective if the supply chains are also working effectively so that farmers can actually purchase the recommended inputs.
Bananas are on the menu for ASHC in Uganda. The team is working to develop a work plan in partnership with the National Agricultural Research Organization/ IITA Banana Agronomy Project.
The ASHC team has been actively involved in the field meetings and attended the recent launch at Kampala University. The project partners and delivery agents have developed a roadmap to reach 5,000 households per project site. The consultation process has also identified the information gaps and the most appropriate channels for getting information to the farmers.
The next step for the ASHC team is to start to review all existing information products and processes and see how they can be refined to better meet the identified needs, tackling misinformation and filling in the gaps by accentuating the benefits to the farmers. The communications strategy will be fed into the project action plan so that all aspects of the project are aligned.
The Banana Agronomy Project has earmarked funds for ASHC involvement in supporting development of communication materials for the partnership of approximately $100,000. This will be supplemented by support from ASHC including staff time.
In Nigeria ASHC is working with the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI). This is another major partnership program led by IITA. The ASHC delivery team has been actively involved in a series of project meetings leading to ASHC convening the first cluster forum in Abuja Nigeria in October 2016. This process was informed by the cassava system guide and cassava nutrient guides develop by ASHC and IITA.
The ASHC team is also working in partnership with Farm Radio International on an ICT Challenge Fund project. Upscaling Technology in Agriculture through Knowledge and Extension (UPTAKE). This project is developing extension support materials for cassava farmers in Tanzania. In November 2016 UPTAKE invited the ACAI Tanzania team to take part in the write-shop process. In June 2017, the ASHC team facilitated a session on cassava value chain information needs at the ACAI Tanzania planning meeting held in Zanzibar.
As a result of its involvement in the IITA initial ASHC has made contact with private sector partners Intrio-Synergies Limited and Notore Chemical Industries, has presented an opportunity for ASHC to be involved in a soybean campaign plan targeting eight states in Nigeria.
ASHC recently convened a meeting of Nigerian partner organizations to agree the technology brief and information materials for the campaign. Implementation of campaign activities had to come together very quickly as planning started just a couple of months ahead of the planting season for soybean.
ASHC is experimenting with village films show in a campaign coordinated developed with Countrywise Communications Ghana. The film focuses on good agricultural practices and improved inputs adopted suited to Ghana. These materials were adopted for the Nigeria campaign.
ASHC will facilitate materials development and campaign planning including the documentation of the learning from the implementation process. Two radio stations that have been contracted to reach the soybean farmers in the target areas. They are airing jingles and holding in-studio panel discussions on soybean agronomy.
This will be the third country and the third variation of campaign materials exploring soybean production. This campaign should provide a significant boost to the ASHC scaling-up targets. It will also give us the chance to compare the different approaches and country contexts to distill the lessons.
Initial contacts with the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) have shown the potential for potential collaboration with ASHC in development and dissemination of ISFM materials on liming and vermi-composting in line the EIAR priorities.
This would involve ASHC to producing extension support materials to support government initiatives on liming for smallholder farmers. The vermi-composting work would pick up on the manual developed by the ASHC team in 2015.
The team will be posting regular news stories about these projects over the coming months.
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