I am Al-Rauf Mahama: a self-motivated, energetic and visionary young man of 26, from the Upper West Region in Ghana of West Africa. I hold a BSc in Agricultural Technology, specializing in Animal Science, from the University for Development Studies.
Statistically, 57% of Ghana’s land is agricultural with 24% under cultivation for forage and shrubs. Naturally, Ghana’s climate favours a very long dry season; rationally, this embraces livestock production but frowns on crop production with rain as the only panacea for farmers in Ghana. Comparatively, animal production is an all-year-round business activity, less risky and less susceptible to climatic changes, as far as my home country Ghana is concerned.
I am a small ruminants (goats and sheep) and cereal (maize) farmer. This is a tradition among most families in my vicinity but has perennially received less attention. Adherence to local management methods leads to low production volumes. I am able to blend a traditional experience with modern farming methods, which is my sustainability drive.
Goat- and Sheep-meat consumption is increasing nationwide, as beef is insufficient owing to the flushing out of nomadic herdsmen. Their cattle-rearing activities have, over the years, degraded fertile lands, destroyed crops, and caused the extinction of most valuable natural resources in some parts of the country.
In practice, I have been able to intensively managed 100–300 breeds of goats and sheep under improvised structures. This produces a wide range of forage that is prepared into hay and silage against lean seasons. Husbandry practices have not been a challenge with no or fewer mortality records in the past three years of work.
Interestingly, manure (droppings) picked are often used to fertilize a three-acre maize farm I cultivate. My personal motivation for this start-up is making the project a family one because of family labour. Nevertheless, I have also employed eight people who receive wages while undergoing training at all stages of the project.
In the short-to-medium term, I intend to increase production volumes by 80% to feed the hungry abattoir in the regional capital. By extension, this provides direct and indirect jobs for people, while providing relatively cheaper meat for the populace. Young people will also be trained in small ruminant production, whipping up their interest in animal production—one of the sustainable alternatives in agriculture, with no or less risk, a large market, and resistant to adverse weather effects.
Value addition as long-term plan cannot be over-emphasized, and a storage plant, packaging equipment, and smokers will be procured to package and transport fresh and smoked meat, far and wide, to areas of low meat consumption. Contingent arrangements will also be made to export surplus meat if need be.
In the expansion of the animal industry, cereal production will not be compromised: manure will be used seasonally as fertilizer with a relative increase in the number of hectares. This, I believe, will help ameliorate the food insecurity predicted to hit the nation in the coming years. It will also create another pool of employment altogether.
The experiences gained in small ruminant and maize production for the past three years may not be enough or are not a panacea for maximizing gains at all levels. But, technical advice shall be sought in all facets of the project in order to realize my dream. The self-sustaining, economically friendly, and economic viable socio-economic empowerment project will invest the grant in the following ways:
- Modernized structure, housing, and breed stocking USD 2,500
- Services (consultancy, training, wages, promotion and marketing, etc.) USD 500
- Machinery USD 200
Blogpost and picture submitted by Al-Rauf Mahama (Ghana): sheikibnrauf[at]yahoo.com.
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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