As far as one can see there are beds with vegetables; peppers, okra, carrots, but above all, tomatoes. We are in Ghana in the Volta region, around Keta. Thousands of farmers grow their vegetables here year-round thanks to irrigation systems. In early 2019, CropLife, in collaboration with the SNV HortiFresh program, selected and trained young farmers to become Spray Service Providers (SSPs). In just a few months’, 268 SSPs graduated of which 90 are in the Volta region.
During the graduation ceremony, all SSPs received a full set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a ledger for record keeping and an Identity Card which states that they are trained SSPs.
A year on, the 90 SSPs in the Volta region have so far serviced 1,506 farmers by applying pesticides for them on their vegetable farms. The price for the service provided is negotiated between the farmer and the SSP. The pesticides used can be purchased by the farmer or the SSP and is not included in the fees charged.
SSP Aaron Gadagbui, arrives on a brand-new motorbike. When he removes his helmet, he proudly points to it: “I have saved up all the money that I made with my spraying activities, so I could buy this motorbike. Now I can reach even more farmers and I can earn more money.”
Aaron lives in Kportorgbe, a small community in the Anloga district.He wanted to be trained as an SSP because he wanted, in addition to making some extra money, to help female farmers with the spraying of pesticides. He explains: “I see that for most female farmers the application of pesticides is not easy. They spend money on low quality chemicals that often do not give the expected results. When they hire me, they know I will only use good quality pesticides; they spend less money in the end and get higher yields in return.”
Before becoming SSPs, young farmers are selected by their community and CropLife according to strict selection criteria. At the end of a 4-day technical and 1-day business trainer, they need to undergo a theoretical and a practical exam. Only those that pass both exams will become SSP.
SSP Wonder Adukonu Gameli from Kportorgbe has happy clients. He says: “They see the advantages of good application. Already after a few days they notice they have less pests in their fields.” Wonder is also happy with the extra income he makes. “I produce seedlings and with the money I made from my spraying activities, I was able to lease more land to expand my seedling production area.”
The extra money is not the only advantage for Wonder: “I apply what I have learned on my own field which helps my seedling business. In addition, I came to realize the importance of always wearing my PPE. Before I was trained, I never wore any PPE and often had skin rashes. Now I have no problems any longer with my skin.”
After the initial training program, CropLife monitors the activities of the SSPs in the field. During these visits, SSPs can discuss any challenge they face. In addition, the ledgers are checked, and data is recorded to keep check of the performances of SSPs.
Another satisfied SSP is Richard Kofi Fiagbe from Anlago, although for the moment, he is not active as an SSP. He explains: “I have used the money that I earned as an SSP to enrol in a course at the Cape Coast University. I never thought I could make enough money to do this, but I managed.”
He admits that he learned a lot during the SSP course: “Especially the sessions covering spraying techniques and spray equipment which was really useful for me. I thought I knew these things, but our trainer Uncle Bob was able to teach me new things. Who knows one day, I will be able to train farmers to become SSPs.”