Ghana Innovation Hub: A Place to Try, Learn and Share
October 9, 2015
Ideas are easy to come by. Good ideas that can translate into workable solutions, however, are another matter. To test and analyze the many ideas that come our way, we are working with Sesa Mu to establish a 10-acre Innovation Hub near the town of Berekuso. (Sesa Mu is a local farmer initiative committed to bringing change to farming communities across Ghana by connecting farmers to resources and training.) Our new farmer advocate, Collins Pipim, is managing this effort.
The purpose of the Innovation Hub is to identify and test the feasibility and economic viability of innovations that benefit smallholder farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs. By innovations, we simply mean tools or practices that are new to farmers in this area and that can lead to better outcomes.
At the Innovation Hub, we work with local farmers to test and demonstrate various innovations through a four-phase process:
- Research of the innovation and the problem it can potentially solve. Innovations may be born out of necessity, or they may come from what we see local farmers doing with success or best practices in other areas.
- Internal development to test the innovations under local conditions and using local resources to measure performance.
- External adoptability assessment, which includes field testing to see how willing farmers are to adopt the innovation, and gathering data to capture the true impact for farmers.
- Distribution of the innovation through workshops with our network of farmers, entrepreneurs and agribusinesses.
We are currently in Phase 2 testing of the following innovations:
- Planting in precisely measured rows
- Various seed varieties of maize
- Moringa trees
- Crop rotation
- Cover crops
- Drip irrigation
By having a central place to test and demonstrate innovations, we can invite farmer groups in so that they may see for themselves the performance of a specific innovation and be able to determine if the technique would work in their own situations. The Hub provides a resource for ongoing support of farmers who are willing to try a new technique but will undoubtedly have questions as they execute it. It also creates collaborative space for farmers to share their successes and failures with one another, thereby growing the shared bank of knowledge and strengthening the local agribusiness community.