By Isaac Pabia — Ghana
I was born to a hardworking farmer and growing up like most children in rural Ghana was involved in farm activities. My parent did their best to educate me and my other two siblings. I trained as a teacher and have been practicing as teacher for the past fifteen years. During the period, I studied Political science and Geography for bachelor degree and MPhil in Political science. I won two National best teacher awards.
In spite of these achievements in the teaching profession, my love for farming and concern for small holder farmers made me to organised 30 farmers into farmer based organisation. I am also a member of the Peasant farmers Association of Ghana. The PFAG offers a platform for advocacy for policies that favours small holder farmers in Ghana. As a member, I have been involved in several advocacy programmes such as farmers’ access to health insurance scheme, access to extension services for smallholder farmers and anti GMO campaign.
MY NAVDANYA STORY
The campaign against the Plant Breeders Bill which is meant prepare the grounds for the introduction of GMOs, resulted in the formation of civil society platform against GMOs which included Food sovereignty Ghana (FSG).
Ghana was blessed with the visit of Dr. Vandana Shiva last year as a guest of FSG. Her visit increased the momentum of the campaign. The awareness of the dangers of GMOs was brought fore by a press briefing held by Dr Vandana Shiva. Through the visit, FSG was given the opportunity to nominate someone to participate in the A-Z course. Although, I live over 800Km from Accra where FSG office is located, I was nominated in consultation with PFAG to attend the A-Z course.
The one month I spent at Navdanya was exciting and fulfilling. My perspective on farming was changed completely. The faculty was wonderful and the Navdanya team made my stay memorable. The morning circles which were characterised by readings, games and a word from participants were inspiring. The closing circle still remains fresh in my mind because that is where I made a commitment to save the millet seed when I get back home.
As soon as I got home, I discussed the advocacy strategies I learnt from Jodi and other faculty members as well as participants from other countries with PFAG and FSG. PFAG membership is made up of both organic and non organic farmers. I needed a platform that I can control to propagate organic farming and seed saving. I therefore set up the Organisation for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (OSARD-GHANA) to spearhead my advocacy and seed saving activities. I am still active in the nationwide campaign against GMOs in Ghana. My confidence is boosted by stay at Navdanya and the inspiration from participants. Since my return to Ghana, I have had the opportunity to debate the Deputy Minister of Agriculture on national Radio concerning the Plant Breeders Bill.
I believe that advocating organic farming is good but most farmers in my area will not accept it unless you are able to prove to them that it works. Therefore, I have set up a model organic farm. The beginning is always difficult but we managed to cultivate six (6) varieties of millet and sorghum, two (2) varieties of peanuts, sesame, cowpea, 2 varieties of bambara bean, neri (melon seed), Yam ( discorea spp), lady finger(okra) and dahl that was given to me at the Bhomi festival. I have three volunteer friends who are supporting me on the farm since I have to maintain my teaching job in order to fund the farm and care for my family. We are aiming at building a network of farmers who are still using the indigenous seeds.
We need a farm hut and a shed on the farm so that a caretaker will stay on the farm. We are expecting funds from a friend in Italy who did crowdfunding for that project. This will solve the problem of monkey invasions. Monkeys have invaded the farm on three occasions. The loss was massive.
The farm is located in savannah ecological zone which is characterised by long dry spells. To be able to do all year round farming, we need a borehole that will supply water to the farm during the dry seasons. We will source for funding for this project soon.
OSARD is aimed at reaching out to farmers and collaborate with them to save the indigenous seeds, but transportation is a challenge. We started with an old motorbike which has become a constant visitor to the mechanic shop.
ORGANISATION FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (OSARD-GHANA)
Organisation for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (OSARD) started in 2014 with the aim to providing training in sustainable methods of farming, climate change adaption and advocacy for policies that supports smallholder farmers. OSARD is also aimed at chemical free farming and the preservation and promotion of local seed varieties. The rural development component of OSARD activities is target at developing farmer cooperatives, skills development for women and livelihood enhancement programmes.
Intended Areas of Intervention
- Farmer training
- Climate Change adaptation
- Seed saving
- Rural Development
- Women empowerment (Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Programme(STEP) for young women
- Livelihood Support
- Development of farmer cooperatives
Our dream is build OSARD GHANA into a strong advocacy and capacity building organisation for small holder farmers. We are prepared to work with organisations who share our dream.
Tel. + 233 201778731
+ 233 244483522
Like our face book page: www.facebook.com/osardghana
MESSAGE TO A-Z COURSE 2015 PARTICIPANTS
Greetings from Ghana to you all. I know you have learnt a lot during your stay in Navdanya. As you go back to your various homes, try to shine the light of sustainable farming in order to save our world. Brighten you little corner. Remember, if we do things in harmony with nature, nature will take care of us. But if we disregard nature, we will be wiped out someday. The commitments you make in the closing cycle should guide your resolve to save mother earth. I wish you well.