Postcards from the field: Diversifying small-scale rubber farmers’ incomes

By Margaret Arwari

27 November 2020

Photo: Agbenyegah Kwami Horgli interviewing a rubber farmer

Agbenyegah Kwami Horgli is a final year student pursuing master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Ghana. Having grown in a family of farmers from Akatsi, in the Volta region in Ghana, made him interested in studying agricultural sciences. “Population is growing at a fast rate and hence increasing the demand for agricultural commodities,” said Horgli. “Therefore, amidst the scarce resources, it is important to increase the number of agricultural communities,” he added.

The 30-year-old student started working in October 2020 with the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Center (FOHCREC) at the University of Ghana, a partner of the Center of International Forestry Research (CIFOR)’s Governing Multifunctional Landscapes (GML) project, which is funded by the European Union. Kwami’s role entails conducting surveys of small-scale farmers in Atiwa Landscape – which covers the Atiwa West district and Kwaebibirem municipality – in the Eastern region of Ghana.   

Photo: Agbenyegah Kwami Horgli in a rubber farm

Horgli’s research focuses on studying rubber farmers in the Kwaebibirem municipality. From his involvement in the GML project, he is learning that most rubber farmers practise monocropping, but some of them intercrop with other crops at the early stages of the rubbers, between 1-3 years. “It would be good for farmers to intercrop the rubber with some permanent tree crops to enhance their income,” said Horgli. “For income diversification, rubber farmers can also integrate small livestock and bees in their farms, so they don’t encroach forest areas to expand their farms.”

“By interviewing farmers I have learned that they are willing to preserve the forest, but when they experience low yields and when they lose their lands to “galamsey” (artisanal mining), they are forced to look for new farm lands in the forest areas,” he said.

Horgli’s professional ambition is to become a researcher on the challenges faced by farmers in forest areas. “I like forests and I would like to see them protected from destruction by agricultural expansion,” he concluded.