Low productivity is one of the constraints identified by stakeholders as affecting the production of cassava in Ghana. The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) aimed at supporting farmers to increase productivity, providing inputs and extension services to a group of farmers during the first phase of the programme. The study assessed the perceived impact of the WAAPP on the livelihood systems of the beneficiary cassava farmers in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana.
Descriptive-correlational survey design was used to explore relationships and predict best predictors of impact. A census was used to elicit views from 106 cassava farmers who participated in the WAAPP. Results from the study showed that more females (64.2%) than males (35.8%) benefited from the programme. They were in the active age bracket (48yrs) and mostly of low formal educational background. Most of them (51.9%) had household sizes between six and ten, and average farming experience of 16 years. They were mainly small scale farmers. Generally, the WAAPP’s components were perceived as “effective” by the respondents. The farmer groups were also very useful. There was also “positive” impact of WAAPP on all aspects of the farmers’ livelihood capitals.
Results of stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that the best predictors of impact were: group members’ access to improved technology, WAAPP’s provision of training and provision of inputs support. The study recommended that the women cassava farmers should request stakeholders to support them to procure processing machines at the districts to promote value addition of the fresh cassava roots before selling.

Background to the Study
Concerns about agricultural productivity growth in Africa have led to the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) to bring into force the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). The CAADP framework projected the need for agricultural growth to attain at least six percent rate (MOFA, 2010, Sam & Dapaah, 2009). The agricultural sector in Ghana has a central role to play in promoting the needed growth and poverty reduction in the economy which is expected to lead to significant improvement in the rural livelihoods (World Bank, 2003). In this direction most agricultural interventions introduced to farmers were designed with the objectives of increasing productivity or food security and further improve the livelihood systems of the beneficiaries (Norton, 2004).

The successful adoption and utilisation of the improved technologies by the target beneficiaries are expected to be channeled through their decision-making and behavioural change processes. These are further expected to provide an enhancement in their productivity and then produce the desired livelihood impacts (Wu, 2005).

Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is one of the most important economic food crops in Africa. It provides the livelihood of up to 500 million households, countless processors and traders around the world (FAO, 2001). People in the tropical world particularly Africa depend on cassava as one of their major staple food (RTIP, 2004). Ghana is the fourth largest cassava grower in Africa after Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola (Oppong-Anane, 2013). The crop is cultivated by over 90 percent of the farming population in Ghana, thus making it the right target crop for the reduction of poverty in the country (Oppong-Anane, 2013; Thiombiano, 2013). It also provides additional income earning opportunities and enhance the contribution of the youth to household security (FAO, 2005). Cassava contributes 22 percent of agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs a large proportion of the population (ISSER, 2014; MOFA, 2010).

Nevertheless, the agricultural sector continues to play a significant role in Ghana’s economy despite the fall in the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 31.8 percent in 2009 to 22.0 percent in 2013. Agriculture in Ghana employs over 50 percent of the work force, mainly small landholders (ISSER, 2014). To make the sector play a more significant role, the government of Ghana through several programmes including the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) has targeted cassava as important economic crop for promotion in Ghana.

Ghana’s production of cassava is estimated to be over twelve million metric tons per annum (MOFA, 2009). Interestingly, cassava production has been increasing in the past five years since 2007. In 2007, total production of cassava was a little over 10.2 million metric tons (MT); 11.3 million MT in 2008; 12.2 million MT in 2009; 13.5 million MT in 2010; and 14.2 million MT in 2011 (MOFA, 2013). Correspondingly, the production in the Brong-Ahafo Region also saw a steady but marginal increase in yield from 2007 to 2010 (MOFA, 2013).

The cassava root is an extremely resilient crop which performs well on marginal lands, and it is regarded sometimes as nutritionally strategic famine reserve crop in areas of unreliable rainfall (Hendershot, 2004). Considering the prediction that the impact of changing rainfall patterns will worsen in the coming years and the confirmation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, that some African countries particularly those who depend on rain-fed agriculture like Ghana will see crop yields decline by up to 15 percent by 2020, it is most appropriate for cassava production to be given a much more attention than ever due to its ability to withstand the shocks of climate change.

Due to the above reasons, coupled with the increasing pressure on the land, rapid decline in soil fertility, increases in conflicts and natural and man-made disasters, donors and governments in the sub-region are now paying more attention to roots and tubers in efforts to enhance food security and alleviate poverty (Sam & Dapaah, 2009). To achieve this, a number of projects have been funded or are being funded by various donors to strengthen the provision of support services in a number of areas including research, extension, credit, rural infrastructure, marketing, and input delivery (Sam & Dapaah, 2009).

One of such supporting organisations which is currently investing huge capital and other resources to support cassava farmers to increase productivity in Ghana is the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (IFAD, 2005). The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) is part of the World Bank’s instrument for the implementation of Africa Action Plan (AAP) aimed at supporting regional integration and making agriculture more sustainably productive (MOFA, 2010; Sam & Dapaah, 2009). In order to significantly reduce poverty in the region, an annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of at least 8-10 percent is required to be sustained in the countries of the region.

The WAAPP was initiated in 2007 with implementation starting with Ghana, Senegal and Mali as part of a 10-year World Bank funded programme. The phase One focused on mechanisms for sharing technology, establishing National Center of Specialisations (NCOS) and funding of technology generation and adoption in the participating countries’ top priority areas. These top priority areas are: roots and tubers (Ghana), rice (Mali) and drought-tolerant cereals for Senegal (MOFA, 2010; Sam & Dapaah, 2009).

The objectives of the initiative were two folds: The first was to promote growth in the agricultural sector by facilitating access to improved technologies for the benefit of agricultural producers and agro-industries so as to ensure improved agricultural productivity and competitiveness of African agricultural products on the international market. The second was to improve the living conditions of consumers, especially those in the extreme poverty brackets through the provision of agricultural products at competitive and affordable prices (Sam & Dapaah, 2009)

Under the first phase of the WAAPP between 2007 and 2012, eight districts (Wenchi, Asutifi North, Tain, Berekum, Sunvani West, Dormaa East, Nkoranza North and Atebubu/Amantin) from the Brong-Ahafo Region were selected to participate in the programme. Each of the districts identified and worked with Farmer Groups (FG), comprising farmers who had comparatively high interest in cassava cultivation. Inputs, improved technology and extension services were provided to the groups to enable them establish at least one acre of cassava farm and cultivate any of the improved cassava varieties released by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The members of the farmer groups were also expected to access resources, agricultural technology, market information and empower their members for the improvement in their farming enterprise.

The idea was that the members of the group will use the piece of plot established as a Farmer-Field-School (FFS), where they come together to learn and practice the improved methods of planting cassava from land preparation to harvesting with the facilitation of the Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA). The proceeds are sold by the group and the planting materials are either sold or distributed among the members of the group to plant on their individual farms.

Statement of the Problem
Cassava production is a very important and widespread livelihood strategy in Ghana and particularly for the farmers in the Brong-Ahafo Region. Production of the crop has seen a steady increase in the region for the past five years from 2007 (MOFA, 2013). The Region’s cassava production was 23.8 percent of the national total in 2007, and second leading producer after Eastern Region. The importance of the crop stems from the fact that it provides employment, food, and cash to majority of Ghanaian farmers, processors and producers along the value chain. For example joint (2006) estimated that 1, 998,184 farming households were engaged in the cultivation of cassava in Ghana.

The WAAPP is presently funding the productivity of root and tuber crops, realising the need for attention to be given to the Technology Generation Development (TGD), especially in cassava production in Ghana. Available records from WAAPP and MOFA indicate that remarkable achievements were made in the first phase of the programme between 2007 and 2012. The investigations carried out by the implementing agents (WAAPP and MOFA) were mainly to assess the project’s success in terms of planned objectives. However, there is limited empirical information on the impact of WAAPP on the livelihoods of the farmers who participated in the programme. If the WAAPP is expected to increase productivity of cassava and also to improve the livelihoods of farmers, then it is important to know how the programme is affecting the beneficiaries, especially from their perspective.

The Objectives of the Study
General Objective
The general objective of the study is to assess the perceived impact of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme on the livelihood systems of cassava farmers in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana.

Specific Objectives:
The specific objectives of the study are to:
 1.      Describe the demographic and farm related characteristics of the cassava farmers in terms of sex, age, family size, educational background, farm size, years of working with group and years of farming experience.
 2.      Determine the perceived effectiveness of :
i.        the components of the WAAPP in terms of provision of planting materials, inputs support, training and extension services
 ii.      farmer group members’ access to resources; agricultural technology; market information and members’ empowerment and
 iii.    determine the farmer group members’ acceptability of the improved cassava varieties

3. Ascertain the perceived impact of WAAPP’s components on the cassava farmers in terms of their livelihood assets.
4.      Determine the best predictors of the perceived impact of the WAAPP on the livelihood systems of the cassava farmers.

Research Questions
1.      What are the demographic and farm related characteristics of the cassava farmers?

2.      What is the level of effectiveness of the farmer groups and each of the main components of the WAAPP as perceived by the cassava farmers?

3.      What is the perceived impact of WAAPP on the cassava farmers in terms of natural, physical, financial, human and social assets?

4.      Which components of the WAAPP predicted the best impact on the livelihood systems of the farmers?

Hypotheses of the study
The following main hypotheses were formulated to be tested at 0.05 alpha level:

1. H0: There is no significant difference in the farmers’ estimated cassava yields before and after the WAAPP’s intervention.

H1: There is significant difference in the farmers’ estimated cassava yields before and after the WAAPP intervention.

2.   H0: There is no significant relationship between perceived impact of the WAAPP  on  the  farmers’  livelihood  systems  and  farmers’  perceived effectiveness of each of the main components of the WAAPP.

H1:  There  is  significant  relationship  between  perceived  impact  of  the WAAPP on the farmers’ livelihood systems and farmers’ perceived effectiveness of each of the main components of the WAAPP.

Research Variables

The Dependent Variable:

Perceived level of impact on livelihood systems.

Livelihood is categorised into five different livelihood assets and outcomes namely:

1.      Natural capital (productivity in yield per unit area, access to productive land)

2.      Physical capital (ownership of knapsack sprayer, access to transport etc.)

3.      Financial capital (increase in income, increase in savings, decrease in debt)

4.      Human capital (access to skilled and unskilled labour)

5.      Social capital (membership with group, ability to feed family members etc.).

The Independent Variables

The independent variables are:

1.      The demographic characteristics of the farmers (age, sex, family size, educational level). Farm related characteristics (farm size, years of farming experience, and years of working with group.)

2.      The effectiveness of the WAAPP’s component (provision of improved cassava planting materials, inputs support, training and extension services.)

3.      The effectiveness of the farmer groups (accessing resources, agricultural technology, market information, and members’ empowerment.

4.      The acceptability of the improved cassava varieties (among producers, small-scale processors and household consumers)

Delimitations of the Study
The study population included only cassava farmers in the eight districts (Wenchi, Tain, Asutifi, Sunyani West, Berekum, Dormaa East, Nkoranza North and Atebubu). Those who participated in the WAAPP during the first phase between 2007 and 2012, but not all cassava farmers in the Brong-Ahafo Region. The WAAPP strategically selected those districts in the region during the first phase.

Justification of the Study
The essence of the study is to assess the effectiveness of the WAAPP in respect to the cassava farmers’ perceptions about the impact its components have had on their livelihood systems. The process can increase farmers’ involvement in the programme evaluation which can improve sustainability.

Information gathered from the study will serve as an important tool to assess the efficiency of the programme as to whether it is worth funding or continuing. The result can also assist in formulating and prioritising policies that are in the best interest of agricultural development in the country and also improvement and sustainability of the WAAPP. The result is expected to serve as an evaluation document that will help initiators and implementers of the WAAPP on how to review certain policies within the programme period. The result will complement the periodic reports from the monitoring and evaluation directorate of the WAAPP. It can also guide future Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), financial institutions, industries and individuals who would like to promote the production of root and tuber crops.

Ultimately, the outcome of the study will add to the body of knowledge in respect to perceptions on impact of livelihood systems among smallholder cassava farmers since most social intervention programmes focus much on the dissemination of improved technologies at the expense of improvement in the livelihood systems of the target beneficiaries.

Definition of Terms:
The following terms as used in the research are defined:

Livelihood Systems: A household livelihood systems are the numerous factors that together affect the household bio-physically and socio-economically to survive and thrive. These can include crop and livestock production, off-farm activities and remittances.

Livelihood: Livelihoods are the means, activities and entitlements by which

the cassava farmers’ make a living: The livelihood assets are natural capital, physical capital, financial capital, human capital and social capital. Perception: Personal indications, opinions and attitudes that the cassava farmers will exhibit to disregard, emphasis or put meaning in their own way. Improved planting materials: New varieties of cassava “seeds” released by CSIR and MOFA

Agricultural technology: In this context refers to the improved methods of production developed by research and released to the cassava farmers through the Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs).

Inputs: Refers basically to the financial and material resources provided to the farmers for their production activities.

Productivity: The output per unit area of cassava cultivated or the cost of production per unit area of cassava produced.

Perceived impact: The degree to which the cassava farmers regard the WAAPP to have contributed positively or negatively to their livelihood systems.

Effectiveness: Defined in the context of this study as the degree to which the expected outcome have been achieved by the proposed intervention as perceived by the farmers.

Acceptability: Refers in this study as the willingness of the farmers to adopt the improved cassava varieties and the willingness of the public to make the maximum satisfaction from the end products.

Consumers: The category of the public in the cassava value chain who use the commodity as food.

Extension service: Refers to the technical backstopping activities that the AEAs undertake with the farmers during field visits.

Organisation of the Study
The whole study is organised into five chapters. Chapter one which consists of the introduction has the following sub headings; background to the study, statement of the problem, general objectives, specific objectives, hypotheses of the study, justification, and delimitation of the study. Chapter two is basically literature that has been reviewed, including the conceptual framework of the study. Chapter three consists of the methodologies and the design used in the study. Chapter four contains the analysed data, results and discussion of the study. The chapter five consists of the summary, conclusions, limitations and recommendations of the study.

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