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Agriculture Project

IVHQ Ghana agriculture project
IVHQ Agriculture Project in Ghana

Project: Agriculture
Program: Ghana

What do IVHQ volunteers do at this placement?
Agriculture volunteers in Ghana focus on crop and animal farming (goats, chickens, rabbits, and pigs). This includes the clearing of land by hand, feeding the animals, planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, fertilizing, weeding, and ultimately harvesting crops to help feed the orphanages. With the addition of an Aquaponics system, the project will also include farming and raising fish in a greenhouse setting.

Who runs this placement?
The Agriculture Project was established in 2010 by the IVHQ Ghana Coordinator, Edward Adeli, and continues to be managed by the IVHQ team in Ghana. Former IVHQ volunteer, Sara del Cuore, spent six week volunteering on the project in June/July 2013, during which time she introduced the local community to Aquaponics (growing of plants in water alongside fish in a closed loop system that re-circulates resources) and began the process of installing a system. 

How will the IVHQ Booster Awards money be used to benefit this placement?
The Booster Awards money will be used in a multitude of ways. Minimally, the money can be invested to finish the Aquaponics system already started by filling it with grow media (gravel), purchasing Tilapia fingerlings, building a low-tech greenhouse (rebar and plastic sheeting), and supplementing the cost of electricity used to run the pump which needs to function consistently. If awarded more than the minimum of $200, a solar panel could be purchased to run the system and avoid reliance on a finicky and costly electrical grid. With each additional amount of aid received, a permanent greenhouse can be built, adding more systems to the same location and establishing a new system at one of the orphanage locations.

IVHQ Ghana team

The specific design of aquaponics used is called Barrelponics (created by Travis Hughey) because it is a contained unit built out of three 55 gallon water barrels. This approach aims to use the most affordable and available materials in third world environments by encouraging people to recycle and re-purpose. Once the system is firmly established and stable, the team can harvest their own seeds, breed their own fish, and run the entire system with solar energy, eliminating several costs that accompany starting future systems. The aquaponic ecosystem has no place for synthetic fertilizers (the fish waste takes care of that), herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides). In fact, nothing synthetic can harmoniously exist in an aquaponic system because the balance needed to keep both the fish and plants healthy would be compromised. The system uses one tenth of the water that traditional agriculture requires. This diminishes the constant quest for affordable, potable water and frees up vast amounts of time spent fetching water from great distances. A large enough aquaponic system holds the potential to grow upwards of 150,000 pounds of food harvested over the course of one year on only one acre. Comparatively, traditional agriculture grows around 15,000 pounds of a crop on one acre over the course of one year.

IVHQ Ghana Agriculture project

Any amount of money awarded to this project will be maximized and employed as a stepping-stone for a modern day initiative to combat the hunger crisis. This project is committed to creatively traversing the landscapes of hunger, poverty, health, and education. This money will become an investment in sustainability and new frontiers.

What is the long-term vision for this placement?
The long-term vision for this project is to establish a sustainable food production system to support local orphanage homes in Ghana. Once the current system has proved successful in a rural area of Ghana, the IVHQ Ghana team will have the knowledge and experience necessary to establish multiple Aquaponic systems in the urban areas where many of the orphanages are located.

The vision is for each orphanage to become self-sustainable by having the knowledge and technology to grow their own food at their location. This will offer a distinct solution to many issues associated with the unfortunate idiom that sometimes there just is not enough food to go around. And too often there is minimal access where there is the greatest need. With this abundant and sustainable system being maximized, there should be no shortage of food for anyone.

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