Indigenous Seed Fair
posted by: Hanna Hett on November 13, 2018
With climate change causing unpredictable weather patterns in Northern Ghana, food security is at risk.
In the past decades, there has been an increase in the use of inorganic farm inputs, which has driven cultivated community seeds to the edge of extinction. This might increase crop output in the short run, but these new seed varieties are not adaptable to the changing climate.
RAINS is tackling this problem as part of Sewoh, a cross-continental project with the African Biodiversity Network (ABN), funded by Brot für die Welt. This project is also in Benin, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. The purpose is to promote the use of indigenous seeds.
On Oct. 11th, RAINS organized a seed fair to bring together farmers from the communities of Tindang, Yilikpani, Langa, Yiziagu, and Yiworgu to showcase and discuss uses for indigenous seeds.
“[It was] a very good meeting,” Mr. Alhassan Philip, a retired Agriculture Officer and the Master of Ceremonies for the event, said. “I don’t remember an occasion when [communities] came together like this.”
The Sewoh project and the seed fair are inline with the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), Zero Hunger. According to the World Food Programme, climate change is creating an unpredictable rainy season in Northern Ghana and restricting crop yields.1
“Some varieties of maize [mature in] over 150 days and…the season is not up to that. You will fear, because they won’t mature before the season ends,” Mr. Philip said.
Using indigenous seeds is a solution for these issues: they have both a shorter maturation rate and are drought resistant. “There is very little effect of climate change on the traditional produced crops,” Mr. Philip explained.
Manure can be used as an organic fertilizer, as “it absorbs moisture…when the rain stops for some time, there is still moisture maintained in the soil.”
Malnutrition and stunting is another problem faced by the Northern Region, impacting 33 percent of children under five.1 A contributing factor to this is less farming of traditional and healthy crops, including sorghum, millet, groundnuts, and cowpeas.2 Thus, revival of these is necessary to reach the second SDG in Northern Ghana.
By bringing together different communities to learn from each other at the seed fair, RAINS’ hopes that it will encourage progress in reviving the use of indigenous seeds. It is also an opportunity to recognize the cultural and spiritual importance that they have.
1World Food Programme. (2018). Ghana. Where we work. Retrieved from www1.wfp.org/countries/ghana
2World Food Programme. (2018, May 29). New study identifies gaps and proposes roadmap to ensure Ghana achieves Zero Hunger by 2030. News. Retrieved from https://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/new-study-identifies-gaps-and-proposes-roadmap-ensure-ghana-achieves-zero-hunger-2