Manure Use in Northern Ghana: Observations From a Field Trip
Whether and how farmers incorporate the use of manure and other organic matter in their management of soils is an important aspect of technology adoption. Organic sources offer nutrients just as inorganic sources (such as chemical fertilizers) do and they are often available to farmers at lower costs than chemical fertilizers. The addition of organic matter to soils is also essential. The use of inorganic fertilizers is not expected to supplant the use of manure, which one expects to be taking place traditionally, but supplement it, as organic nutrient sources help maintain and improve soil structure, and are thus important for attributes such as soil water holding capacity. This four day trip (May 16 – 19, 2011) was made to understand farmer practices with regard to manure use in the three regions of northern Ghana.
The trip began with visits to two villages in the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) in the Northern Region. These were villages in which farmers had used the “commercially” available manure during the previous year. The following day, we visited three villages in the Kassena Nankana district in the Upper East region. On the last two days, we visited villages in Sissala East and Lawra districts in the Upper West region. There was a great deal of what Robert Chambers referred to as the tarmac bias in the selection of sites for discussion. It is unavoidable when one can’t simply show up at a village but requires assistance from the local extension agent to organize a meeting usually involving the chief. This does not necessarily make the observations any less relevant as villages are fairly well connected in Ghana and nearly one half of the population is urbanized – one of the highest in Africa. Also the sites chosen should not be interpreted as representative of the districts or the regions but are a sample of different situations one might observe in the three regions. Full article with videos here