Testing agricultural technologies in Northern Ghana

In 2015, IFPRI collaborated with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), a Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) research institute, to set up demonstration plots to test the productivity of maize varieties in Northern Ghana. Maize is an important food cereal in Ghana, but productivity is low. One contributing factor may be the lack of improved seed technologies for maize.

To test this, we looked at the relative performance of the most commonly used variety in Northern Ghana, Obataanpa, with two local varieties developed by the CSIR and two foreign hybrids. We found that one of the foreign hybrid maize varieties, Adikanfo, had the highest yields in nine out of our ten trial districts. Our paper, “Agronomic performance of open pollinated and hybrid maize varieties: Results from on-farm trials in northern Ghana”, presents the descriptive results of these trials.

Since the trials identified a hybrid variety that outperformed the other varieties tested, we also wanted to see whether exposure to the trials would have any effect on technology uptake or behavioral change among farmers in the region. Therefore, in 2016, starter kits of Adikanfo, the best performing hybrid, were made available for purchase at subsidized rates in the communities where the trials were conducted in 2015. After farmers purchased the starter kits, planted and harvested their maize, we conducted a survey of farmers who both purchased and did not purchase the kits and asked them about the factors that influenced their decisions. In addition to looking at adoption patterns, this survey allowed us to measure how the improved varieties performed on farmers’ fields in comparison to in the managed trials. The descriptive results of the survey are presented in a second working-paper “Performance and Adoption Factors for Open Pollinated and Hybrid Maize Varieties- Evidence from Farmers’ Fields in Northern Ghana”.