The epicenter food security program involves establishing a comprehensive community-led food system:
- a cadre of trained, specialized agricultural/food security animators,
- a Food Security Subcommittee of the Epicenter committee;
- strong links between these animators and the government’s district extension officer;
- a demonstration farm on the epicenter campus, at which all the farm families in the community can learn improved practices suited to their local ecosystem;
- managing food processing facilities, such as grain driers and mills and canning;
- a community grain bank to protect against shocks and to ensure farmers are not exploited by high prices right before harvest and low prices afterwards;
- warrantage: a system of farm input loans paid back with grain to the grain bank.
The animators represent a method of leveraging scarce government extension personnel through farmer-to-farmer volunteerism. This strong social infrastructure has served as a platform for additional programs such as the AGRA-funded GESSiP: Ghana Extension Systems Strengthening Project launched in 2019. The GESSiP is a three-year project implemented by CRS, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DAES: Ghana’s Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services, The Hunger Project (THP) and Farmerline aimed at increasing productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers within 28 targeted districts.
This was also the subject of a 2021 Zoom webinar that focused on the mobile tools to support this program.
GESSiP produced a comprehensive set of training manuals and protocols for improving productivity of a number of varieties of maize, cowpea, soyabean, rice and cassava.