The Spray Service Provider Project: Source Trust – Sustainability in Action310
Project background and objectives:
Source Trust promotes sustainable agriculture and works with farmers to improve sustainable practices, helping farmers produce a stable, higher quality yield. As part of its programmes Source Trust provides farmer training on Good Agricultural, Environmental and Social Practices to more than 30,000 farmers in four main cocoa growing regions of Ghana.
After the first phase of training it became clear that farmers, although being trained on how to correctly handle pesticides, still use counterfeit products and do not know how to properly measure, mix and apply the pesticides and how to treat the leftover pesticides, therefore exposing themselves and their crops to danger.
The objective of this project was to strengthen training on the use of agro-chemicals and to ensure that best practices are developed and adhered to among cocoa farmers.
In order to encourage farmers to comply with requirements of safe use of agro-chemicals, Source Trust together with Croplife proposed the establishment of a network of Spray Service Providers (SSPs). These are farmers who have received special training to apply pesticides and who hire out their services to fellow farmers.
Project activities to date:
July 2012. Project concept development with CropLife Africa Middle East
August 2012 – Signing of the training agreement between CropLife and Source Trust The objective of the training programme was to equip Source Trust field staff with skills that would enable them to train Lead Farmers as SSPs.
September 2012 – SSP training in Kumasi, Ghana
The training programme was carried out from 17– 28 September 2012. It was comprised of 5 days of theoretical training on the “Principles of Safe Use and Application of Pesticides”, 1 day for the practical test, and 5 days for practical preparation and delivery of training to the cocoa farmers. The training was attended by 15 field staff who were drawn from different districts – 3 female (20%) and 12 male (80%).
In general, the participants had below average prior knowledge on the topics covered during the training. This was confirmed by quite low pre-test scores – on average participants scored 44.5% in the written test and 49.5% in the application test.The post-training tests, however, demonstrated improved results – on average participants scored
73.9% in the written test and 69.9% in the application test. After the theoretical training all the participants took part in a further practical test and scored on average 63%.
They also completed a mock training with farmers, which was evaluated on average at 72.3% by the trainers. This served as a test to evaluate if the participants were capable of doing the work required of the SSP. Thirteen out of fifteen participants were successful, with only two participants failing to receive the certificate. They will be encouraged to participate in future SSP training workshops.
Prestat contributed £10,000 towards the training project. The actual training costs incurred were slightly higher than initially budgeted – £12,390. The difference will be matched by other sources of funding.
Future project activities:
The SSP training will be further integrated into Source Trust donor funded training programmes from March 2013
Project Managers and Field Supervisors will train selected Lead Farmers who will then carry out SSP workshops for a total of 30,000 farmers
This training builds on the existing farmer training structure of Source Trust. By leveraging its current staff Source Trust will be able to build capacity of at least 30,000 farmers from four different cocoa growing regions of Ghana on an on-going basis.
Rather than relying on commercial spraying teams this project encourages cocoa farmers to build their own capacity. Commercial spraying teams do not transfer knowledge to farmers, whereas the SSP training that Source Trust delivers not only improves their knowledge of agro-chemicals but is also more likely to be accepted by other farmers in the community, who are more willing to use services from a person they know and trust than from a stranger.
The benefits of using SSPs are multiple: 1) correct pesticides are used at the correct timing for the correct target pests, 2) controlled line of distribution prevents over-stocking and helps with empty container management and 3) there is reduced over-exposure to pesticides as SSPs use personal protective equipment.