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Volume 11, Number 1, February 6, 2017
Back from the abyss:
ow Stephen Kanjo is fighting  climate change in northern Ghana
Stephen Kanjo has farmed all his life using methods handed down through generations to work his modest family plot of land in the Krachi Nchumuru District of the Volta Region of northern Ghana. This is a difficult place for farming.
Target 13.1
Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
Weather patterns here are no longer as predictable as they were in his father's time. Rains come later than expected. Drou ght is always a threat. For Stephen and his wife Martha, the pressure to provide for their four children is immense. Hardworking small-holder farmers in this region are struggling to meet their nutritional needs during hunger gaps when food and money are scarce. Stephen, 48, says he became increasingly frustrated by the results of his hard labour over the years. He readily admits he had very little knowledge about the uses of good agronomic practices and extension services. At times yields were so poor Stephen would let the season go by without farming at all. 
When a new project called FOSTERING began organizing district farmers into co-operatives, it gave farmers like Stephen an opportunity to take advantage of new economies of scale - by pooling and storing their crops and waiting to sell when prices rebounded after the initial post harvest sell off. Stephen chose to join the Family Based Farmer Cooperative in Borae - and change the way his family had farmed for generations. Through the co-op, he no longer had to go it alone.

Stephen says he especially valued the training he and fellow co-op members received.
Through its demonstration fields, and in collaboration with government agricultural extension agents, the project introduced a series of agronomic practices and extension services to member farmers. New approaches for row planting, spacing and weeding radically challenged the way Stephen had learned to farm. With better drought resistant seeds he could see that sowing fewer seeds and wider apart could generate greater yields.

He learned how to build swales - low tracts of land designed to better manage water runoff, filter pollutants and increase rainwater infiltration. He also learned how to safely and properly apply inoculants and phosphorus, and water and soil conservation techniques. He learned how to compost and to plant climate resistant varieties of soybean. He also learned how to use labour to open land up for farming, and to use conservation farming (minimum tillage) - both environmentally friendly and cost effective.

Farmers soon reported that these technologies enabled them to boost their crop production even in the face of variable weather. They explained that even with good rainfall, crop performance without the application of these technologies was very poor. They had found the tools they needed to see farming as a business with promise.

Stephen applied what he learned to his fields of maize and soya beans. The transformation was so great that, for the past three years, Stephen has been the leading producer of soya beans and maize in his district. He now harvests a minimum of eight 100kg bags of soya beans and nine-to-ten 100kg bags of maize per acre - some three times the yield he'd taken before his FOSTERING training. He says other farmers sometimes come by to find out from him the secret behind his success in farming.

Along with training, Stephen credits his access to FOSTERING's production loans through his credit union for his success. With these loans he can afford to buy the  farm inputs he needs and on time. Martha took small business training through the project. The income she earns selling kebabs and other soybean dishes she prepares adds to the family's financial resilience.

"FOSTERING has changed my life and the life of my family forever," says Stephen. His family can afford to eat three  meals each day and, with the sale of surplus produce, Stephen and Martha are able to pay their children's school fees and expand their farm. 

And what of the future? While Stephen has a renewed passion for the business of farming and plans to expand, when asked if his children will continue in his footsteps he quickly replies "no." He says he wants his children to go to school since he will be able to take good care of them through the money he makes from farming. 


FOSTERING (Food Security Through Co-operatives in Northern Ghana) is a five-year project managed by the Canadian Co-operative Association, SEND-Ghana and the Ghana Co-operative Unions Association Limited. It is funded by Global Affairs Canada and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada. It is establishing farmer-owned and managed credit unions and agricultural co-operative enterprises that can deliver the tools farmer members need to become food secure - skills and inputs to produce more and better crops, and financial and marketing services to secure higher household income.
The project is increasing sustainable, gender equitable food security for over 42,000 men and women small-holder farmers in 5,400 households in 130 communities in East Gonja, Kpandai, Nanumba South, Nanumba North, Krachi-Nchumuru, Zabzugu, Tatale-Sangule and Chereponi districts of the Eastern Corridor. This integrated, co-operative approach supports Ghana's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Co-operation Framework.
THE CANADIAN CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION (CCA) is a not-for-profit co-operative incorporated under the Canada Co-operatives Act and which operates as a subsidiary of Canada's national association of co-operatives and credit unions, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC).  CCA's mission is to establish and grow co-operatives, credit unions, and community-based organizations to reduce poverty, build sustainable livelihoods, and improve civil society in less developed countries. CCA proudly delivers programs for the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF), a nationally registered charity which helps communities fight poverty and create more secure lives through community-owned co-ops.
THE CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION OF CANADA (CDF) is a registered charitable organization that works to alleviate poverty by building and strengthening financial and non-financial co-ops in Canada and around the world. CDF works with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and other organizations to implement development projects on its behalf.

 Charitable Number: 11887 5517 RR0001 


CCA is a not-for-profit
 co-operative with a mission to establish and grow
co-operatives internationally that build a better world.


To achieve this mission, CCA works closely with Canadian co-operatives and credit unions to channel their knowledge and experience to partner organizations and 
co-operatives in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Eastern Europe and Caribbean.