GSF focuses on increasing agricultural productivity for smallholder women farmers while strengthening their capacities of first identifying the needs of a smallholder women farmers and also establishing needs-based Farmer Learning Groups to illustrate and train them in cost-effective production. In addition, climate smart, Technology Adoption Plots is carried out using traditional farmers cropping practices and adopting the Climate Smart Village (CSV) model.
One of GSF's strategies to improve adoption of post harvest handling and agro-processing is to promote private service providers to supply value-adding mechanized services to farmers. The good example is the introduction of mechanized rice threshing which has been highlighted previously. rice threshed by machine takes a fraction of the time required with traditional methods, it is cleaner and the grain is less damaged. However, a motorized threshing machine is too expensive and has too high capacity to serve only one farmer. To meet the demand, there has been a rapid scaling up of some 50 small-scale commercial threshing enterprises in Kassanda alone.
GSF sub-counties offices offer some loans to smallholder farmers. Typically, the loans are for production input for 0.5 to 1 hectare. Some of the participating farmers in the GSF crop demonstration programs are often among those selected to receive such loans. But the number of loan recipients is limited in such government programs. Banks shy away from making such loans, since farmers lack collateral and rain farming is inherently risky. In general, most smallholder farmers are forced to self-finance the inputs they need.
Much of the Theme 2 post harvest handling work is directed toward strengthening the completeness of commercially-oriented smallholder farmers engaged in Theme 1 (crop productivity enhancement) activities.
Theme 2 staff help farmers to improve the efficiency post harvest handling to improve the quality of grains, and other produce, which include among others, minimum breakage, free of impurities and disinfested.
Strengthening the willingness and ability of local agribusinesses, especially seed companies and input dealers, to offer competent extension support to smallholders is an important objective for Theme 3.
These businesses are often the first contact for farmers in need of advisory services, yet they usually lack adequate training in basic agronomic practices. Moreover, the inputs they sell are normally packaged for commercial-scale operations rather than smallholder farmers.
Training of the trainers, who are primarily the extension staff of the GSF in all participating sub counties, is critical for GSF operations. Field demonstrations and capacity building of trainers, farmers and entrepreneurs, will help provide for a lack of professional post harvest extension staff in the focus sub-counties.
It is essential for commercializing smallholder farmers to work together as a recognized legalized entity (Farmer Organization – FO / Farmer Based Organizations- FBOs) in order to strengthen their voice for articulating their needs, for lobbying and taking advantage of economies of scale. Accessing the market in more beneficial ways is a major reason for establishing farmer-based organizations.
Crop Productivity Enhancement is generally not enough to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. Therefore, to strengthen competitiveness of commercially orientated smallholder farmers we train value to their primary produce and diversifying their range of income-generating activities. GSF enable smallholder women farmers to increase the availability of good-quality food through improving agro-processing and nutrition.
We seek to convince private input suppliers (of seed, fertilizer, crop protection chemicals and equipment) to help finance smallholder agricultural extension services. Over time, as the private input supply chains become stronger, it is likely that they will provide extension services to farmers themselves, as has occurred in the industrialized sub-counties. However, in the near- and intermediate-term, partnerships are needed, between public and private organizations, and with farmer-based organizations as well.
The GSF country programs began implementing Farmer Learning Platforms-FLPs. (the main training and extension methodology). FLPs consist of three types of demonstration plots:
Community Demonstration Plots (CDPs) which are composed of Women Assisted Demonstrations (WADs) and Teenagers Assisted Demonstrations (TADs), Technology Adoption Plots (TAPs) and Model Adoption Plots (MAPs).
Partnerships have been critical to GSF strategies since the inception in 2016. A significant part of GSF approach in the project sub-counties to team up with government ministries in order to have access to the critical mass of GSF staff required at grass-root level. Agricultural development cannot be adequately addressed by public sector alone. There are opportunities for Public-Private Partnership & Market Access to broaden the scope and impact of agricultural extension and to strengthen the capacity for collective action by commercially oriented farmer associations to access and profitably engage in commercial markets.
Community farmer training offered to extension subject matter specialists (SMSs), Community Based Extension Officers (CBEOs), Community-Based Facilitators (CBFs), small-holder farmers and other stakeholders, such as input dealers and seed producers. For farmers, Community based extension officers and community-based facilitators, training is provided at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the cropping season.