The complete lack of sturdy fencing for farm animals can lead to a charming first impression in rural Ghana. Mother goats with their tiny, leaping offspring outside your door, a dozen skinny cows SLOWLY crossing the road, donkeys braying at your window. Not to mention, manure randomly deposited on fields, thus enriching the soil. However, one soon realizes, these are hungry animals. The average “free range” cow needs 24 pounds of quality forage and grass/day and they would love to eat your well tended tomato, onion, and bean plants to meet their daily requirements. During the dry season, animals aggressively break through the rudimentary corn/millet stalk fencing used by farmers that irrigate. One cow can destroy 2 acres of garden in a few hours. When a farmer has spent two months manually irrigating his crops while also sleeping in the field to help keep out animals, a sneaky break-in and 90% loss of garden crops is beyond frustrating. This mother donkey and cow were frequent visitors just outside our door.
Anything but innocent when it come to destroying crops
The remarkably low cost of food in Ghana means that farmers operate at a very low profit margin. Wire fencing is financially out of reach, and indeed, it’s extremely rare to see agricultural fencing in Ghana. The farmers we have helped with treadle pumps have begged for help with fencing over the years. This led YWF to dedicate some funds for a fencing ‘pilot project’ on two farms. In this case, the fencing is designed to keep out animals, rather than to keep animals contained.
David sawing a brace Chareundi on site as a corner post is installed
After research and cost comparisons, David decided on 3 strands of barbed wire, like American rangelands, with chicken wire added on the lower half to keep out small animals and fowls. Barbed wire is by far the most economical type of wire fencing. Having grown up in farm country, David is well versed at installing barbed wire and did quite a bit of training during our January trip. Chareundi Vansi of Portland OR volunteers with us in Ghana to coordinate projects for the dry season farmers. Fencing work continues in our absence at the two farms, YWF should soon know soon if the barbed wire/chicken wire design is successful.