Victoria Kombat is a 21 year old single parent who is ensuring access to quality agri-inputs and information to other women in her community, Kpatua no- 2, and VSLA members in other communities. She is a VSLA member and one of the seventeen (17) trained agri-input dealers by the Pathways Programme in the Garu-Tempane district to make quality agric-inputs available to smallholder farmers.
Access to quality agri-input (weedicides, fertilizer, inoculants, improved seeds, personal protection equipment) had been difficult for farmers in the programme communities as they had to travel long distance (30km) to Garu for these inputs. The sellers were not always able to give them the right information on the correct use of the pesticides sold to women farmers. There are few input dealers operating in the project communities as against the large farmer population. In addition to this, most of the sellers are not accredited making reliability of their products uncertain.
Since 2013, the programme collaborated with some input dealers and district departments of agriculture to promote the use of agri-inputs through demand creation activities such as input fairs and FFBS demonstration plots. As a result of these activities, smallholder women farmers now have good appreciation of the need to apply improved agri- inputs and willing to use them.
As part of the strategy to increase smallholder women farmers’ access to agricultural inputs, the programme has collaborated with a few major agri-input wholesalers (18th April Ltd – Wa and BASF-GH, Tamale) to develop the private sector agro-input dealer network that provides quality, competitively-priced agro-inputs and technical information and services to the target farmers in the project communities ensuring sustainable access to quality and affordable agri-inputs.
In June 2016, Victoria received training on pesticide regulations and safe use, sales and marketing, book keeping and accounting and also linked to BAS-F, a major agri-input wholesaler. During the 2016 farming season she was supplied with assorted inputs and decided to focus her effort on educating the farmers on safe use and effective application of the agro-chemicals. She explained this in her own words as follows;
“Most of the farmers in my community destroyed their farm crops due to misapplication of these chemicals. Recognizing the difficulties in accessing quality agri-inputs and information on its application as well as the good appreciation of its use by farmers, I decided to be trained as an agri-input dealer to support my fellow women farmers with quality inputs and information and also earn additional income. I worked with the VSLA groups in my community and other communities sensitizing the members on the effects of these agro-chemicals on their health and the environment, and preparation and field application of weedicides. I have assisted over forty (40) women by educating commercial sprayers they have engaged on their farms on calibration of the knapsack spraying machine, mixing and application of the chemicals (weedicides)”.
According to her, the farmers who took her advice are quite happy because their farm weeds have been suppressed. Since the weeds are not there to compete with the crops for soil nutrients, the crops are growing better than before. It implies that there is a potential for better production this season if the fields are nurtured properly.
“For me, seeing this satisfaction on the faces of my fellow farmers as a result of the little I do, gives me self-fulfillment. CARE – Ghana has made a real change in my life and other farmers as we are able to easily access information on agri-inputs”.