Antanah Farms ‘an integrated farm’ in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality of the Western Region has been inaugurated by the SNV Boosting Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn) Project, with funds from the European Union (EU) and the Embassy of Netherlands in Ghana.
The five-acre farm, managed by a 33-year-old Joel Antanah, is an integrated sustainable farm that specializes in poultry, eggs and meat production, pig farming, catfish and tilapia farming, as well as crop production.
Antanah Farms, has gained recognition for its innovative and sustainable practices, including the use of sawdust as bedding for pigs and the application of Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO) to transform pig waste into valuable compost for farmers.
Joel’s approach to pig farming, set an example for sustainable waste management in the industry, by utiliizing sawdust as a layer on the concrete where pigs sleep.
The farm, does not only provide comfort for the animals but also facilitates the collection and decomposition of pig waste. The application of the IMO technology, a solution as rich in enzymes that enables the breakdown of cellulose into the waste of the animals, transforming it into nutrient-rich compost, is used by Joel and other local farmers to enhance their crop and vegetable production.
Due to this technology, Joel is one of the 12 businesses to receive a matching grant from the EU and SNV Ghana during the maiden GrEEn Innovation Challenge (GIC).
In December 2021, Joel was awarded a matching grant of GHc 100,000 under GIC to construct an odour-free pigsty using the IMO technology that allowed him to increase the processing of the waste from the pigs and scale up the production of the compost for his crops.
The process, which relies on use of sawdust- regarded as waste, means Joel find alternative and useful means for what people regard as waste.
“I decided to use saw dust as bedding for the pigs because of the environmental impacts of burning. When you go to a sawmill, the saw dust is heaped and burnt, whiles some are also washed into the gutters, causing harm to the environment. The saw dust bedding has also contributed to the neatness of my pigsty. There is no bad smell when you visit my farm.” Joel disclosed.
Joel’s IMO technology also safeguards the environment and prevents toxic waste materials from the pigs from seeping into water bodies and polluting the soil and environment
“Over the years, I realized that though we needed manure to fertilize our soils, applying the raw pig excrement to the farm was very dangerous as it can sometimes even destroy all the crops around. I prepare this IMO solution, mix it with saw dust and used it as bedding for my pigs. So, instead of the pigs sleeping on the concrete floor, they would rather be sleeping on the saw dust. The IMO solution breaks down the cellulose in the sawdust, making it odourless and environmentally friendly. When you see the pigs, they are always very neat” he added.
With the support of the GrEEn Project, Antanah Farms has been able to expand its operations and implement sustainable farming practices on a larger scale to drive economic growth, create employment, and contribute to the development of the agricultural sector in the region.
Joel was also trained under SNV Ghana’s six-month GrEEn Incubation Programme facilitated by U-hub at the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa. Under this training, he received business coaching and advisory support as well as market linkages and was supported to participate in regional and national level trade shows and exhibitions to increase his access to market.
According to Mr. Emmanuel Gado, Presiding Member of the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assembly, “Farmers in the community struggle a lot. They do not get people to help them with work on their farms and this is because the youth are all engaged in illegal mining. The young men especially want a quick way to make money and so shun farm work and troop to the mining sites. However, I believe that Joel’s story is an inspiration to some other youths who genuinely want to own something and be able to fend for themselves.” He mentioned that Antanah Farms will promote agriculture in the community and give the youth an opportunity to be employed instead of spending their time on white collar job hunting.