An intern’s experience in Bono East: Guest post by Meri Akaribo

Participants in MADE’s graduate internship programme spent four weeks with partner agribusinesses, travelling to smallholder farmer communities with information on COVID-19 preparedness as well as good agricultural practices. This guest series presents their experiences in the field in their own words and photos. 

Meri Akaribo is a graduate of Damango Agricultural College. She completed a MADE internship with SKY-3 Investments, located in the Bono East Region, during June–July 2020.

Talking to staff on the premises of SKY-3 Investment Limited about the agribusiness’s COVID-19 safety protocols

Having completed a MADE internship with SKY-3 Investment Limited in Kintampo North District, Bono East Region, I have gained a lot of experiences which have enlightened my perceptions and approach to field work. 

As a new field worker assigned tasks to perform, I was left with a feeling of fear and anxiety. In fact, I was nervous in the initial stage, especially on the first day when the Farm Enterprise Advisor introduced me to the farmers to deliver my message to them. I was thinking: Where do I start from? And where do I end it? But it was really a wonderful experience, and in the end a successful one, which gave me courage and enthusiasm that continued the rest of the days of my internship. 

A visit with mango farmers in Kwabeda to demonstrate COVID-19 safety measures while the Farm Enterprise Advisor was giving advice on harvesting disease-free and unspotted mangoes

Part of our assignment was to train and educate small-scale farmers on the current pandemic. I have tried to reach out to as many farmers as I could to educate them on the need for self-defence against the viral pandemic, demonstrating handwashing, the use of nose masks, sanitisers, social distancing, etc.

To my greatest surprise, most of the farming communities I visited were ignorant of the virus and the safety measures. Moreover, the few farmers that had heard about it never believed that they would be affected, due to the nature of their work and prevailing weather conditions. Throughout the sensitisation effort, however, I was filled with much joy because the farmers were so loving and interesting. My interactions with farmers were a great pleasure. 

A surprise encounter in Ponpon

The above photo is one moment I won’t forget during my training period in Ponpon. Being threatened by snakes and other wild animals was such a bad and scary experience for me, but you know what? This is a favourite delicacy of the farmers, and they quickly roasted it and enjoyed it! I was left perplexed. 

As I visited the communities of Brigade, Kaakaa, Ponpon and others, I came to realise how farmers abuse agro-chemicals such as pesticides and weedicides. Some use four litres or more for an acre of land, which is very bad. It’s a common notion that the higher the concentration, the faster the result. Due to this belief and lack of adequate extension services, farmers apply the methods they think are best for them. Hazardously, most of them apply chemicals without safety precautions such as nose masks or Wellington boots. With regards to this, I educated them on the adverse effects of overusing agro-chemicals on their farmland.

Thanks to MADE for these wonderful experiences I have gained. 

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