During a nutrition training in Ghana, participants learn how to sort and process Moringa leaves, which are rich in nutrients and helps fortify the daily diet.
Empowering communities in Ghana to become self-sufficient, address malnutrition, alleviate poverty, and strengthen their resources
By Alice Mar*
January 26, 2016—Nearly 60 women and men from three communities near Accra, the capital of Ghana, participated in trainings last fall to build their capacities for sustainable agriculture and nutrition awareness, trainings they hope will set them on the road to achieve greater food security.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sponsored the trainings, after which workshop leaders identified eight participants as possible “farmer extensionists” or nutrition promoters. The extensionists and promoters are individuals who are deemed to have the capacity to effectively “extend” what they learned in the UMCOR workshops by sharing it with their neighbors.
“Our vision is that those we train will not only practice what they learned and thereby improve the health and well-being of their own families but, also, will share their knowledge—formally or informally—with others,” said Alice Mar, UMCOR executive secretary for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security.
The value of this approach is independence. “Through this social promotion a larger impact that is not reliant on outside actors or resources is possible and sustainable,” Mar explained.
It has long been a foundation of UMCOR’s Sustainable Agriculture and Development (SA&D) program to offer training and education to communities that empower them to address malnutrition, alleviate poverty, strengthen resources, and become self-sufficient.
Farmer extensionists and nutrition promotors volunteer their time to share their knowledge and skills with the larger community. As they do so, they facilitate UMCOR follow-up with community members to ensure that newly acquired skills are put into practice and families are experiencing positive change in their lives.
Partnering for change
|Training in nutrition is also for young girls. Janet Amartey, age 15, presents to the plenary about the nutritional benefits in soy, as compared to other foods. Janet was the youngest participant.
Mozart Adevu, a Global Ministries missionary (UMCOR is part of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries) led the Accra workshops along with his team of trainers. Over the course of two weeks, participants learned about beekeeping or about how to use the versatile Moringa plant and soy to improve nutrition.
The training was held in partnership with The Methodist Church Ghana (Adenta Circuit), The Presbyterian Church of Ghana, and The Church of Pentecost. The churches selected participants from three nearby communities (Adenkrabie, Ayim, and Brekusu) and provided the meeting space and some funding for the training event.
Through this partnership, 57 community and church members participated in the trainings, 23 of them in the beekeeping workshop and 34 in the nutrition workshop.
The value of training
|A beekeeping training held in Ayim, in the Akwapim South District of the Eastern Region of Ghana, provided practical sessions on how to construct beehives. The trainer Kweku Esiama (right, in black) was himself trained in Jeduako, Ghana, in 2010. He currently has about 20 beehives. Photo by Mozart Adevu
“The training in Moringa, soy, and beekeeping was valuable for the Adenta Circuit of The Methodist Church Ghana,” said Emmanuel Kwasi Owu, circuit steward. “It will go a long way to help the church and the participants play a remarkable role in the societies and the communities where they operate.”
In fact, two of the Agricultural Project officers of The Methodist Church Ghana, Benedict Kyei and Dennis Kofi Saarkwaah, had participated in previous UMCOR trainings. They continue to promote what they learned through their respective program areas and are a resource for UMCOR’s SA&D program as it engages new communities.
“It is our hope that by engaging with local churches and other organizations that are integral to communities we are building the capacity of local people and entities to engender change not only in their own lives but in their entire communities,” said Mar.
Like other programs supported by UMCOR, the SA&D program is community-centered and shares technologies that are appropriate to the community, socially just, economically feasible, and self-sustaining.
Trainees in Accra learned how to utilize locally available and affordable materials to build their own beehives, solar extractors, bee suits, and solar driers. By keeping the material and construction costs of each of these items under $50, trainees will be able to grow their operations over time with small investments. UMCOR will continue to work with these communities to monitor activities, provide advice and mentoring, and empower the selected farmer extensionists and nutrition promoters.
Sustained impact, lasting effects
|Millicent Laryea, 54 (left) and Mary Amarh, set Moringa leaves for drying after sorting and washing them. They were both participants of a recent nutrition training this past November. Photo: Mozart Adevu
In the village of Jeduako, where UMCOR SA&D has been operating in partnership with the Sekyere West District of the Ashanti Region in Ghana since 2001, more than 300 farmers have received training and support. Many of them have confirmed that their households are food secure. With food no longer a problem, these farmers are free to focus on other issues such as the education of their children or building a home.
Margaret Oduro, 57, a mother of five, got involved in the program in 2002. Since then, she has expanded her farm from a half acre to six acres. She produces maize, plantain, cassava, yams, and vegetables, and she has eight beehives from which she harvests honey yearly for additional income.
Oduro said her yields have more than quadrupled since she started to use the knowledge she gained from the UMCOR trainings in Jeduako. She said she is fully food-secure and living happily. Plus, she said, she now earns enough income to care for her children, and she pays boarding fees for them to attend school. Oduro also built her own three-bedroom home. She attributed all her success to the UMCOR trainings she received and used to increase her yields.
Your gift to UMCOR Sustainable Agriculture and Development, Advance #982188, supports community-centered food security programs in Ghana and around the world.
Alice Mar is an UMCOR technical officer and oversees the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security program.