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EWA-BELT & INCiTiS-FOOD online webinar "Participatory approach to confirm the importance of community engagement and of collaborative solutions - Experience from Ghana"

July 5, 2024. Partners of the EWA-BELT (GA 862848) and INCiTiS-FOOD (GA 101083790) projects engaged in the second of a series of webinars with a focal point to  discuss the ongoing experiences and research endeavors on the participatory approach carried out in Ghana.

Rewatch the webinar on 

With the title “Participatory approach to confirm the importance of community engagement and of collaborative solutions - Experience from Ghana”, representatives from the two projects addressed the main challenges and promising results achieved so far through targeted research and on-site experiences towards more engaged, informed and participative communities in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa in general. 

The participatory approach in food security systems represents a valuable methodology to ensure that research, outcomes and successful results are shared along the entire value chain. This makes the active involvement of community members, local organizations, governmental entities, scientific experts and on-the-field agents a priority to be reckoned with. Emphasizing collaboration, inclusivity and empowerment of local communities in the identification, planning, implementation and evaluation processes of the strategies to improve food security is among the core missions of both the EWABELT and INCiTiS-FOOD project, whose partners are testing research questions and ideas in real content situations with on-field agents. 

In Ghana, partners of the Consortia are carrying out specific initiatives adopting the multi-actor participatory methodology. In particular, representing the INCiTiS-FOOD project, Dr. Michael Ayamga and Dr. Emmanuel D. Abarike from University of Development Studies discussed about “Improving Circular Technology Adoption through Co-creation”. 

Dr. Michael Ayamga and Dr. Emmanuel D. Abarike highlighted that the central part of the Living Lab concept implemented in the University of Development Studies (UDS) is co-creation and community empowerment. This is seen as the UDS Living Laboratory specializes in organizing training and workshops for interested university students, collaborators, and on boarded participants, aiming to educate on the use and application of aquaponics and hydroponics. 

The innovative systems built in the Living Lab are promoted for their space efficiency, water conservation benefits, and ability to sustain year-round production. The UDS Living Lab approach to maintaining and improving its sustainable food solutions involves co-creation, fostering innovation and creativity by bringing together diverse stakeholders such as researchers, practitioners, and local communities. This collaborative effort ensures contextual relevance and holistic problem-solving, addressing challenges from water use to sustainable food production. As a participant of the Living Lab, collaboration, shared learning, thorough problem-solving sessions, and iterative processes aimed at refining solutions is a central pillar. Dr. Michael Ayamga and Dr. Emmanuel D. Abarike highlighted that the participants of their Living lab play integral roles in managing fish, monitoring water quality, overseeing plant growth, and designing efficient aquaponic systems, guided by the comprehensive training and support sessions. 

I like the fact that all that is grown here is organic and that the vegetables are very fresh and they last long compared to the one we buy on the farm. [...] I really encourage other people to also try to learn about this. - Testimonial from UDS Living Lab Participant.

On behalf of the EWA-BELT project, Dr James Kombiok from KDC  highlighted “The cultivation of fonio, a hunger gap closing crop in Northern Ghana to farmers within the FFRUs to enhance food security and improve farm family income”. He first described how the Top-Down Technology development and dissemination (Researcher Driven) and the Participatory Technology Development (PTD) or Farmer Driven approaches differ and why they chose the latter within the EWABELT research activities, namely “because the approach involves all the stakeholder of Agricultural development from the start; from Conceptualizing the idea till the end”. He then continued to outline how the approach was implemented on the field, with a particular focus on fonio activities given its beneficial advantages compared to other crops. Results are already available and seem to attest to the success of the participatory approach in that

“Farmers are delighted they are part of the full process to add fonio to the short duration crops to cope with climate change; [...] They are willing to extend the crop to other areas in each district; [...] They are now connected to the processor who will take the extra”. 

Dr Joseph Adjebeng-Danquah from CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute will discuss “Participatory management of fall armyworm damage on maize using plant extracts and intercropping” and confirmed how the engagement of farmers and on-the-field agents represent an advantageous asset along the entire process of the research activities carried out. In particular, he highlighted how their so-called Farming System Research (FSR) approach has been designed and implemented to tailor the research and technological activities to the needs of the end-users themselves. In doing so, within the two main districts, researchers at CSIR-SARI have conducted several tasks; from the establishment of demonstration plots to trainings in GAPS and in neem extracts preparation, as well as the assessment of symptoms of Fall Armyworm damage at vegetative and harvesting stage. Although challenges still persist and more needs to be done, the results achieved so far are promising and must be scaled out to more communities . 

Acknowledging to the wide range of topics that the webinar discussed, a sustainable, safer and more inclusive future of agri-food systems in Africa where communities are actively involved at all stages of the implementation and decision-making processes is possible and attainable if cooperation among all players at all levels, research endeavors and investments are provided. The EWA-BELT and INCiTiS-FOOD Projects are promising exemplary instances of this ambitious objective. 

You can rewatch the webinar on

Stay tuned for the upcoming webinar on “Resource management optimization: two sides of the same coin - soil & water management in Sierra Leone”. Sign up to secure your spot by following this link :  

To learn more about the topics that were discussed, get in touch with: 

Dr Michael Ayamga:

Dr. Emmanuel D. Abarike:

Dr James Kombiok:

Dr Joseph Adjebeng-Danquah:


For media inquiries:

EWA-BELT Project 

INCiTiS-FOOD Project


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