Fairtrade certified producer organisation, Assin Citrus Farmers Association has launched a hydroponic system that will allow the cooperative to have all year-round cultivation of vegetables (leaf lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers etc.) alongside the production of citrus. The unveiling ceremony was held at Assin Fosu in the Central Region of Ghana in the presence of the Municipal Agric Directorate and Central Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Ridol Hydroponic System Centre and the Ghana Association of Agro-input dealers. The system was procured through funding from Fairtrade Recover Africa fund supported by the German government through GIZ. The Recover Africa project seeks to support farmers to build economic resilience through alternative livelihoods, in the context of the global pandemic.
Prior to the unveiling ceremony, there was a training and demonstration to fifty-two (52) producers from various Fairtrade Africa Producer Organizations on the use of the system in helping to increase farmer yields and income. Ridol Hydroponic system is a technology that enables hydroponic farming, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil by regulating the composition of nutrients in the liquid solution used to water the plants. The farmer also regulates the frequency of supplying the nutrients to the plants. One set has been mounted for farmer demonstration and training at the municipal agricultural directorate. The other 3 hydroponic sets will plant approximately a quarter of an acre, in this way, creating optimisation on land usage. This will take approximately 900 plants of lettuce, cabbage and carrots. The total cost of the purchase of all the sets was GHC9,000.00.
Speaking prior to the launch event, Edward Akapire, Head of Region for Fairtrade Africa- West Africa Region mentioned the relevance of adapting new technologies and farming methods that allow farmers to be resilient in the face of climate related challenges. He added the Fairtrade Africa’s strategy for 2021 to 2025 is axed on providing producer and farmer organisations with tools and access to technologies that enable sustainable farming systems.
The Municipal Director of MOFA for Assin North Municipality, Francis Kwame Freeman commended FTA for the funds in supporting Fairtrade Producer Organizations to improve their livelihoods. He added that the hydroponic allows for product diversification in the face of climate change to increase farmer incomes; Mr. Freeman further advised all producers to adhere to the safety and health protocols in the face of the covid pandemic.
The unveil also coincided with Fairtrade’s joint planning meeting for Nuts, Fresh and Dried Fruit Fairtrade certified Producer Organisations namely Ekumfi Atwia Farmers Association, Nyameakwan Citrus Association, Biotropical Products company Ltd, Akoma Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Ayinase Coconut, BS Abanga Cooperatives, and Yilo-Krobo Mango Association, Assin Citrus Association, Blue Skies Mango Collective, Adumanya Mango Famers Cooperative and Apesika Pineapple Growers and Marketing Limited
The three-day joint planning meeting from 9th -12th February was to review plans and activities of the Fairtrade certified producer organisations for 2021. At the end of the meeting, producers were aligned on the new ways of peer-learning and also committed to adapting the good agricultural practices and social compliance that allows for sustainable crop production.