By Lukeman Adams
Humanist Service Corps Volunteer
It is lovely seeing seven different people from different social, racial, and geographical backgrounds working collectively for a common purpose. People across Ghana and the United States have come to my community in northern Ghana to help with various projects. The Humanist Service Corps (HSC), a Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) program made this possible. As a HSC volunteer, I am working with our partner organization, Songtaba, on a project to help women farmers gain better farming and business skills. My project is starting with the women accused of witchcraft in Kukuo, but the tools I am building could change agriculture in all of Ghana.
HSC brings people from all over the world with relevant skills together to partner with local NGOs. The 2016/2017 batch of volunteers, just like those before, is diversely rich in skills. They are well composed for the second generation’s work. Volunteer’s experiences include information technology and data management (George), youth education (Jude), agriculture and economic empowerment (Lukeman), accused witch reintegration (Baako), and social media and fundraising (Warren).
George and I are able to put our skills together to work on my project to help women farmers. Upon my request, George agreed to teach me basic operations and use of a global positioning systems (GPS) in geographic data collection and management. I believe that using the technology in my region with greatly increase the productivity and income for farmers. Beginning with theory for a few days, we set out to practice on the field. The first practical lesson was in garden at the HSC house. The next was on my six acre maize farm and poultry farm. I learned how to identify and record GPS coordinates, how to rename coordinates, and how to map out a location using the GPS. For assessment, we took coordinates at the four corners of the maize farm, the center of the maize farm and coordinates for the poultry farm. George is a wonderful teacher and I hope I was a wonderful student.
Next we searched the GPS coordinates we took from the field on Google maps and the exact location and image of my farmland appeared. It clearly showed the edges of the land and the location of the poultry farm.
Learning how to use the GPS is part of my bigger plan to map and geo-reference agricultural data using a technology known as ArcGIS together with the GPS data and other agricultural data including soil information. This will ease decision making for farmers, investors, government and other key players in the agricultural sector.
With appropriate technology such as GPS, ArcGIS, and soil pH meters. Songtaba and HSC together can change the future, not just of women farmers but of agriculture in Ghana. Building a database which will be a one stop shop for soil nutrients and other important properties will eliminate the guesswork farmers use in applying soil additives such as organic and inorganic fertilizers in their farm soils in order to increase crop yield. It’s my dream to see agricultural key players take full control of soil information in order to make well informed decisions. It will also suggest specific soil nutrient requirements which will ensure value for money. This can and will be achieved if the needed information and tools are made available.
All of the HSC team members bring unique skills to our work. We all have projects that we are better suited for than the others. That means we are also able to bring our skills to the other’s projects. George’s background is not in farming as mine is, but he has already made invaluable contributions to my agriculture project. Next week I will be filling a gap in the reintegration project. Our work together as a team makes all our projects stronger. It is similar to what I am working to do to help the women farmers here. Many of resources they need already exist. It’s putting the resources together in the right way so that they are accessible and understandable. That is what my project this year is all about.
Lukeman Adams is a Northerner from Bole who has long believed in helping those around him. While pursuing a BS in Agricultural Technology from the University for Development Studies and a diploma in Human Resource Development from Gate Management College, Lukeman helped his home community establish a cooperative savings group. This experience led Lukeman to do something audacious for his year of national service. He approached a mentor at GCB Bank in Bimbilla and promised to bring in 1,000 farmers for small business loans. After surpassing that goal and stewarding high rates of repayment, Lukeman was invited to stay on. Never one to be idle, Lukeman started a poultry farm while working at the bank. Lukeman now employs four people at Harl Farms and hopes to employ more in the near future.