Effects of the MCA-Ghana Program Farmer Training On Productivity of Smallholder Maize Farmers in the Kwahu East District of Ghana

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This research report was initiated to evaluate effects of farmer training of the Millennium Challenge Account -Ghana program on productivity of smallholder maize farmers in the Kwahu East District. The Program which ran from 2007 to 2012 aimed at reducing poverty by raising farmer incomes through private sector-led, agribusiness development. The farmer training spanned August 2008 to October 2010 in the Kwahu East District. Since then no ex-post evaluation had been undertaken to assess the impact of the training in the District in terms of technology adoption, yields and incomes. Hence this study aimed to undertake such evaluation. The objectives of the study were to: find out how the training affected the technology adoption by farmers; determine yield outcomes and incomes of the farmers; examine the yields and incomes of farmers two years after the training relative to figures before the training; and identify the challenges to enhanced technology adoption, yields and incomes of farmers. Data were collected through a district survey of MiDA trained and non MiDA trained maize growers conducted in May 2012. A three-stage, randomized procedure was used to select a representative sample of 162 maize farmers. These farmers were questioned on their level of technology adoption, production costs, yields and revenues. The study revealed that in 2011 with regards to use of improved maize seed, close to 80% of trained farmers compared to less than 60% of non trained farmers adopted this technology. A significantly higher percentage, 71.1%, of the trained farmers adopted row spacing technique, while this is true for only 44.4 of non trained farmers provide evidence that the disseminated maize technologies have diffused satisfactorily among MiDA trained farmers. This is quite impressive, considering that maize in the district is grown mostly by small-scale farmers, many of whom live in isolated communities. These results show that MiDA made good progress in achieving the objective of promoting the dissemination and adoption of improved maize technologies. Also in 2011 Return on Investment for the trained and untrained groups were 92.36 and 59.45 respectively, with a difference of 32.91 in favour of the former. In either year each group had production efficiency greater than one, indicating that each made profit. However in 2011 maize production was much more profitable and efficient for the trained group with production efficiency of 1.92, than the non trained group, whose efficiency was 1.59. Consequently the training has had a positive effect on the incomes of many rural smallholders throughout Kwahu East. The survey results show that enhanced productivity of the smallholders is challenged by the following factors: technology adoption challenges (i.e., costly to adopt, complex to adopt, lack of skills to adopt, lack of access to extension services and lack of production resources); yield challenges (i.e., unusual agro-climatic conditions, low soil fertility, lack of skills to adopt technology, lack of access to extension services, lack of production resources and pests and disease effect ); and income challenges (i.e., unstable prices, unreliable market, post-harvest losses, lack of market information, and bad roads). What emerged from the findings suggests that in spite of the aforementioned challenges which continue to be the factors that explain why there is still a wide gap between the current best yield of 1200kg/acre among the smallholders and the achievable yield of 2400kg/acre, the impact from the training program had been positive as many of the beneficiary farmers have had significantly enhanced yields and incomes two years after the training program. It is hoped that the successes and challenges identified can serve as a source of knowledge that can potentially be used to inform and improve future intervention efforts, both within the district and in other parts of Ghana.
A Thesis submitted to the Institute of Distance Learning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Commonwealth Executive Masters of Business Administration, September-2012