OCP Africa, a subsidiary of the OCP Group, a leading global producer of phosphate and its derivatives with almost 100 years of experience, successfully executed the launch of its agro school lab initiative known as the “OCP School Lab” (OSL) at Ejura, Ashanti Region, to support smallholder farmers.
The OCP School Lab which was introduced to Ghana in 2017 in coordination with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, with the sole aim of increasing the yields and the incomes of smallholder farmers on strategic crops by offering a full set of agro-services which includes a school with interactive training, live demonstrations and animated videos for an increased adoption of good agricultural practices.
This program also includes soil testing for the same smallholder farmers, using a laboratory with latest innovations, providing live information on soil needs and fertilizer recommendations in terms of fertilizer type, application rate, and application time to optimize crop yields and profits.
The OCP School Lab provides these services to the most remote areas within several campaigns. Each campaign lasts for 6 to 10 weeks during which the OSL truck travels a selected region to offer soil testing and training sessions to farmers from the surrounding areas.
Speaking at the launch event, the Deputy Director of Crops at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Solomon Ansah Gyan, indicated that OCP Africa has partnered with MOFA, Departments of Agriculture and the Soil Research Institute to ensure that farmers are given the best services to increase productivity.
He added that the Regional and District Departments of Agriculture assist OCP in designing the route map for the school lab campaign and also assist with training of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for farmers.
Since the introduction of the OCP School Lab in Ghana, about 45,000 smallholder farmers have benefited of the program across the Northern, Upper East, Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions from 2017 until today. The focus is on maize, rice, millet, and sorghum.
In the first half of 2019, the campaign has covered the Eastern and Upper East regions, using two trucks covering 150 communities and reaching about 20,000 farmers. For the second half of 2019, OCP Africa is raising the campaign a notch higher as the OCP School Lab (OSL) is set to arrive Ejura in the Ashanti region with 3 trucks and is expected to reach an additional 30,000 farmers in 160 communities in both Ashanti and then Upper West Regions.
Speaking to newsmen at Ejura after the launch, Madam Rose Adoma, a farmer, expressed her delight at the introduction and impact of the OCP School Lab on their farm business.
She stated, “previously I used to harvest 3 bags from an acre of land but after the training and soil testing and advise from the OCP School Lab, I now harvest 13 bags from an acre of land.”