“You cannot plant crops on this rocky ground and up a hill,” Mr. Emmanuel Dugbatry was told. Mr. Dugbatry is the 4-H advisor at Korm Primary and JHS in the Yilo Krobo district in Ghana. “We proved them wrong and showed the community that agriculture can be anywhere and everywhere.”
Korm is an exemplary example of how 4-H works through students to impact their lives, teachers, schools, and communities.
A sense of together
“I joined 4-H to help pay for my SHS fees, find a job, and to provide a sense of together amongst my fellow students,” replied Linda, the 4-H club president, when asked why she joined 4-H. The members bond together during weekly gatherings where they engage in sports such as football, hand ball and volleyball, and other activities, such as choreography and dance. These activities encourage members to engage in fun, healthy exercises and to make them part of their routine.
164 students are members of Korm 4-H, which is about 60% of the total upper primary and JHS students at the school.
The 4-H club has been granted 10 acres that are being farmed with maize/corn, cassava, groundnuts, eggplant, and cocoa and palm trees. Students and teachers tend to their gardens every Friday and the parents join in on their efforts after each Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting. The Queen Mother has even warned the community not to tamper with the 4-H acres, or face punishment.
Members immediately dispersed into the fields during a recent visit to pluck weeks from their groundnuts – like an army protecting their treasures. They feel connected to their crops; the garden is not laborious, but a blooming classroom where they are acquiring technical skills, confidence, and transferring it into their communities.
Influence their minds through their bellies
Engaging the PTA has provided a stage to transfer new agricultural techniques into the community. The 4-H club introduced the concept of planting maize in rows to optimize production, which has been adopted throughout the community after witnessing the increased yields of the 4-H fields.
Proceeds from the gardens have been used to pay for JHS members to attend senior high school (SHS). A young girl recently became very ill and only through a donation from the 4-H could she be treated in a hospital and have fully recovered. Some of the produce is also sold back, and some donated, to the school to provide healthy meals for the students.
Teachers credit the school’s outstanding academic performance partly to the nutritious meal provided during the school day from the 4-H garden. Korm was recently awarded one of the best academic schools, as well as the best basic institution in agriculture, in the district. At Korm, hills are not viewed as uphill battles, but as opportunities to cultivate the next generation of Ghanaian leaders.