Dorward 2009 – Participatory budgets in Ghana and Zimbabwe

This paper describes the findings of research that aimed to 1) understand the constraints faced by farmers during production seasons and 2) evaluate the usefulness of a novel participatory method for exploring farming practices and resource use with farmers. Detailed research was conducted with 22 small scale tomato producers in Tano district in Ghana and six small scale farmers in Buhera district in Zimbabwe. Working individually with each farmer, participatory budgets were constructed in advance of the coming production season to indicate farmers’ planned activities, resource use and production. During the season each farmer was visited every month and actual activities, resource use and production recorded and compared with the plans. Reasons for differences were explored and at the end of the season a revised participatory budget drawn up. The process identified a range of seasonal social, natural and economic factors, both expected and unanticipated, which effected farmers’ practices and livelihoods. Funerals, sickness and community labour commitments reduced labour availability and delayed planned activities. Early onset of rains In Ghana reduced the spraying period and higher than expected temperatures led to the additional activity of having to shade plants. Actual inputs varied from those planned due to unavailability and to farmers responding to the condition of the crop. A glut in production severely reduced tomato prices in Ghana and resulted in many farmers not harvesting large proportions of their crop. The use of participatory budgets in this research was time consuming but increased researchers and farmers understanding of seasonal factors and of potential solutions to these problems.

File: Dorward 2009 - Participatory budgets in Ghana and Zimbabwe.pdf