The Howard G Buffett Foundation Centre for No-Till Agriculture (HGBF | CNTA) gives Ghanaian farmers who are interested in alternative farming methods a strong grounding on the benefits and methods of conservation agriculture. Farmers take part in short term courses at the Centre, itself a model farm which grows diverse crops using only conservative agriculture techniques.
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2End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
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Conservation agriculture, through notill, is a practice that retains the soil’s healthy balance of nutrients, resulting in consistent levels of production and the ability to grow a wide range of produce which keeps farming families healthy and provides them with a sustainable source of income. Farming methods such as slash and burn, pesticides, and tilling threaten food security in Ghana. Farmers using these ‘traditional’ farming methods typically see decreases in the productivity of their land after just two years.
By leaving cut-down vegetation on fields rather than burning it, for example, a healthy layer of mulch builds up and the soil becomes richer and less dependent on artificial inputs. No-till also promotes natural processes of weed and pest control.
The Centre’s founder, Dr Kofi Boa, was inspired to spread the take-up of conservation agriculture by his personal experiences with traditional slash and burn practices. When he was young, his family’s farm burned to the ground after a neighbouring farm lost control of its fire. Before founding the centre, Dr Boa used to work in the Ghanaian crop research institute.
During his time there he maintained small plots of farms which he used to teach farmers. In 2012 he asked himself: why not scale up and establish a bigger teaching centre? From there the Centre for No-Till Agriculture was born.
The HGBF | CNTA gives Ghanaian farmers who are interested in alternative farming methods a strong grounding on the benefits, evidence and methods of conservation agriculture. Farmers take part in short term courses at the Centre, itself a model farm which grows diverse crops using only conservative agriculture techniques. The Centre emphasises hands-on field demonstrations and community-based training events alongside classroom based-learning.
By attending these courses, farmers can establish an important network of other farmers who are making the change from traditional farming to conservation agriculture. The Centre reports impressive results: a 35% yield increase, a 45% decrease in labour inputs, and a 25% increase in farmers’ disposable income after two years.