In view of the low productivity of maize in Ghana, the SARD-SC maize project has adopted the Participatory Research and Extension Approach (PREA) on innovation platform for fostering interaction among stakeholders, problem diagnosis and accelerating adoption of technologies. The first step in the PREA cycle is problem diagnosis through community analysis, which enables the identification of farmer production constraints, exploration of opportunities and identification of solutions towards improving maize productivity.
Community analysis was conducted in 18 communities in Ghana across three innovation platforms that constitute the project area in April 2014. Two days training workshop followed by three days of field work and one day presentation of field reports was employed. The major objectives of the analysis were to:
- Share knowledge and information about the livelihood situation in the communities in relation to maize value chain;
- Identify priority problems and opportunities for improving maize value chain in the communities,
- Assess with the community members the existing technology options;
- identify entry points within the innovation platforms for project implementation in the respective communities;
- Identify community based organizations and partners at community level for project implementation.
Gender disaggregated field data were collected by brainstorming with 745 (423 males and 322 females) farmers mobilized across the 18 communities. Six participatory tools including livelihood means; crop and livestock prioritization; problem prioritization and farmer coping strategies; community resource mapping, soil fertility matrix and seasonal calendar; community institutions, linkages and strength; and input and output market channels and network were used.
A total of 29 farmer constraints and vulnerabilities were identified across the three platforms. These comprised 12 crop production, five crop processing, four crop marketing, and three livestock problems and five vulnerabilities. The major problems that cut across the three platforms in order of importance were declining/low soil fertility, erratic rainfall/drought, high cost of land preparation/inadequate tractor services, and attack by pests and diseases. Lack of shelling machines/high cost of shelling was the major crop processing constraint reported. Low/ unfair produce prices and lack of standard unit of measurement for maize produce were the major marketing problems identified across the platforms.