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Permaculture And Digital Innovation (PADI):

Producing 5 foods to COMBAT malnutrition and SUPPORT the environment, and to BOOST income and REDUCE losses by marketing harvest digitally.

Photo of Kwasi Asante
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Farmer Co-op or Farmer Business Organization

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Although KASIL is the main organisation, it has previously consulted Heifer International for advice and collaboration on agricultural projects. KASIL would consult Madam Comfort Pinto who is the project coordinator of Heifer International in Ghana. She would be assisting in the project and providing technical help especially in the beekeeping and pepper production aspect of the project. Kwasi Asante is an agriculturalist, entrepreneur and a researcher (PhD) who is part of the international research group (People and Wildlife Group of the University of Reading, UK) : Kwasi Asante is also the manager of a farming business and cooperative called KASIL. KASIL helps small scale or subsistence farmers to increase productivity and to sell their farm produce in an environmentally friendly way. KASIL is registered in Ghana and UK; Heifer International is based in 21 countries around the world including Ghana.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Accra , Reading

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Ghana , United Kingdom

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Ashanti, Central and Eastern Regions of Ghana

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I have lived in Ghana for over 10 years and studied the agricultural systems in Ghana. I speak the major local language and I have also carried out international research projects in the country therefore it is my preferred choice for any agricultural project. The projects included field experiments as well as surveys involving farmers and agricultural extension officers. 

Peace and Democracy: Ghana is on the OECD DAC List of ODA recipients and is in the 'lower middle income countries and territories.' Ghana has shown stability in governance by exercising democracy and enforcing the rule of law which makes it exceptional when compared to other countries in Sub Saharan Africa.It has established independent democratic institutions and systems to ensure the continous rule of law. Since its independence, it has made successful efforts to avoid civil war and maintain peace, which is a vital requirement for the success of any project. 

Contribution of Agriculture to Economy: Agriculture is the backbone of Ghana's economy and an increase in agricultural productivity would result in economic development. According to a world bank report, Ghana spends over $2 billion on food imports and is a net importer of basic foods. Agriculture contributes almost 25% to the GDP of the country and it is the most important sector for jobs and livelihoods in the rural areas.

International Trade: The country was the first African country to gain independence from the British, and it has maintained a very cordial relationship with United Kingdom and other former British colonies. It has promoted trade and socio-economic relations with the UK, USA and other developed countries. According to the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Report 2019, Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. 


Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The capital cities of the Ashanti, Central and Eastern Regions (ACER) of Ghana are Kumasi, Cape Coast and Koforidua respectively. ACER are found in Southern Ghana and the ethnic group found in ACER are referred to as Akans.


The Ashanti and Eastern Regions are located in the middle belt while the Central Region is located in on the coastal belt.

Agriculture and Natural Resources:

Agriculture contributes to about 75% of the workforce in ACER. Farmers produce foods including tubers, fruits, vegetables. Cocoa is Ghana's main cash crop and it is cultivated in ACER. Ghana is the second largest producer and exporter of cocoa. Most farmers cultivate the crop to provide income for their families and also cultivate staple crops on the same land to provide food for the family. The natural resources in ACER include gold, timber, manganese, oil,natural gas and bauxite. 


The daily temperature in ACER ranges from 22°C (71.6°F) at night to 32°C (89.6°F) during the day. The humidity ranges from 75% to 85%.  

The climate of ACER is tropical and there are two main seasons namely dry and wet seasons. The wet or rainy season usually begins in March and ends in November. Rainfall is between 1300 and 1700mm per year and it is bimodal occuring at high intensity between April and June, September and November. 


The cultural and political organisation is based on matrilineal lineage. The chief is the head of a settlement or local area and he is chosen from a woman's side of the family, hence matrilineal lineage. Christianity, African traditional religion and Islam (only about 10%) are the main religions of the Akan people who dominate ACER. The traditional way of dressing include Kaba and slit for females and trousers, shorts and shirts for males. Kente is an expensive local fabric and cloth which is woven and worn amongst the people especially during important occasions. Because gold mining is an important economic activity in ACER, gold is usually worn as  adornments especially in the house of chiefs.

Food and Related Activities:

The main economic activity in the three regions is farming. Other activities include mining. Fishing is only common in the central region which has a coastline. The industrial food crops grown include cocoa, oil palm, coconut, coffee, cotton, kola, rubber, cashew, shea and soybean. The starchy staples, cereals and legumes include cassava, cocoyam, yam, plantain, maize, rice millet,sorghum cowpea and groundnut. The fruits and vegetables include pineapple, citrus, banana, pawpaw, mango, tomato, pepper, okro, egg plant, onion and butternut squash. Animals such as grasscutter, snails, chicken, sheep, cattle and goats are reared and used for local dishes. Snails are very delicious but are only available during the rainy season due to their biological and environmental requirements. There are festivals in which only particular foods are eaten. For example Aboakyir is the deer hunting festival. Several families and communities come together to eat and these festivals bring peace to the people in a local area. Farmers usually cultivate only one or two types of crops and buy the rest from markets. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The Food System in Ghana faces several challenges which affect the environment, culture, diet, technology, policy and economy; these factors can also be used to effect a positive change in the food system. 


The environment faces pollution of the land,air and water. Global warming is the most important threat to the food system as all living organisms are affected by temperature and biodiversity is at risk when temperature increases. The problems affecting the soil include erosion and desertification while water bodies are at risk of eutrophication. Furthermore, where there is abundant rainfall, harvest may be plentiful and food is wasted as farmers are unable to store their produce. By 2050, the increase in Ghana's population could result in an increase in fertilizers and pesticides which is unsustainable for the food system.


Poor nutrition has led to the increase in the number of diseases including deficiency diseases such as anaemia, scurvy and rickets. In sub-saharan Africa, 41% of children under 5 years are malnourished (1). Quantity as well as quality of food, is a problem which has resulted in the deficiency diseases. The domino effect of insufficient and low quality food is a non-balanced diet, poor health, inability to work and eventually poverty.


Agriculture is the driving force of Ghana's economy and contributes about 25% of the GDP. Ghana has depended heavily on cocoa as a cash crop and consequently, and needs to diversify its export crops for consistent foreign exchange. Crops need value addition to be sold for more profit. More food needs to be cultivated in the country to reduce food importation and increase export.


The Ghanaian culture needs to embrace modern practices including the involvement of women in key roles in the food system. A larger workforce would be required in 2050 and women would be willing to embrace these roles. The culture needs to accept newly improved methods of farming and food preparation.


Technology has the power to change poverty however poverty is a barrier to the acquisition of technologically advanced inputs for improving the food system. All agricultural inputs including seeds, pesticides, fertilizer, machinery for farming practices are all affected by lack of technology and consequently affect the quantity and quality of food produced.


Current Government policies should increase sustainable food production and industrialization, diversify crops and reduce the use of chemicals (in fertilizer and pesticides). 




Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The vision provided by KASIL would promote a balanced diet from permaculture in the production of five nutritious foods which would be marketed with digital Innovation. The vision of KASIL is to intercrop Cowpea, Sweet Potato and Chili Pepper on one farm, rear bees and snails on the same farm and develop a mobile app for monitoring the production process so that a ready market is available immediately after harvest . This method, innovation and technology, though simple, will strategically build a stable and sustainable food system foundation needed to sustain the food system.


According to FAO, about 75% of global food comes from only 12 plants and 5 animal species; consequently, the pressure on our food system can be relieved by diversifying the plants and animals which we grow and rear in our environment. The research by KASIL and the People and Wildlife Research Group shows that legumes such as cowpea can regenerate the soil. Furthermore, dead plant parts can be turned into mulch and organic manure for the soil and other crops growing on the land. Intercropping creates a natural environment to encourage biodiversity to thrive. Finally pollination by the bees increase the quantity of harvest.


Intercropping three nutritious crops and rearing two animals produces food which contains ALL the nutrients needed by the body for a healthy and balanced diet. Cowpea alone contains about half of the nutrients needed by the body and the leaves, pods and grains are all edible by man and animals such as snails.


At the community level, farmers will reduce cost by spending less on inputs and will generate more income as they will have a wider range of crops to sell to a market which is readily available. A ready market reduces cost of storage as well as food wastage. At the national level, a healthy population produces a better workforce with a higher life expectancy. Also food importation is reduced as communities are self sufficient in local food production.


Culture can be easily be changed when communities understand that these five sources of foods can end malnutrition, promote good health, generate income, reduce the cost of farm inputs such as fertiliser and pesticides. The improvement in their livelihood will automatically cause a shift in attitudes and beliefs.


Science, research and technology has improved storage, fertilizers and pesticides however this simple yet effective technological vision replaces expensive technology at a reduced cost. The digital innovation enhances communication by farmers with KASIL and the external market.


Government policy on food importation would change when more food is being produced locally. Export would also increase when food is being produced in abundance and value can be added to the food by industrialization. 


High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The lives of the people and community would change as they experience not only social and economic development but also environmental sustainability which would be measured and shown as follows:


This vision would create new jobs and careers in farming, agribusiness, transport and trade and unemployment would be reduced especially amount women and the youth.


Producing five different agricultural products would guarantee a regular and steady income as all products have different lengths of maturity.

Counter Urbanisation:

As employment opportunities arise, people would migrate from far and near settlements to the specific areas of the project to take advantage of opportunities and to trade. The settlements.

Population Structure:

The population structure of the communities would attract more youth and women who migrate to new areas to participate in the project.


Buildings,transport networks, power and water supplies would be built and improved as settlements increase in size.

Human Development Index (HDI):

Higher incomes would enable families to afford the cost of formal education which would increase literacy. They would also have better health as quantity and quality of food is improved. Literacy and better health promotes higher life expectancy.

Environmental Development:

The project would increase biodiversity and sustainability by reducing eutrophication, erosion, desertification and pollution.

Research has shown that subsistence farmers eat what they grow therefore if the farmers can produce these nutritious food, they would feed not only themselves but also feed their environment in the process.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

A sustainable and regenerative food system is one which does not require a constant input of resources but is capable of creating and using the resources in the environment to achieve quality and productivity. It must be emphasized that the project is not intended to replace the current food system but to improve its regenerative potential and reduce the activities on man damage the environment and agroecosystem.


The key strategies involved in the project are the principles of permaculture intercropping, mixed farming, pollination, integrated pest management and organic manure application. Permaculture refers to 'permanent agriculture' or a 'permanent culture' which involves an ethical framework, understanding how nature works and a design approach. The design approach differs from place to place and in this vision, the choice of the 5 foods forms the basis of the design approach.   

Intercropping is the process of cultivating more than one crop in the same area or space. Research has shown that intercropping provides several benefits including pest management and soil improvement depending on the choice of crops. The choice of crops for this project is cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) and sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas). This vision also involves rearing honey bees (Apis mellifera) and the Giant African/Ghana Snail (Achatina achatina). The vision has been strategically designed and tested such that each crop or animal would exist mutually with other crops, animals and the environment. Consequently, the existence of the crops and/or animals in the ecosystem is not only a source of food to mankind but also a benefit to other living organisms and the environment. The snails predominantly feed on soil and some weeds and also fertilise the soil. The three crops produce flowers which the bees being reared are attracted to. As the bees use these flowers as a source of food, the carry out pollination which increases crop productivity. After the field production, the marketing would be facilitated with the digital innovation/mobile application.


Cowpea, chili pepper and sweet potato are all crops which are able to mature and fruit within 3-4 months. Cowpea is a leguminous plant and it is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil for plants to use. In this intercrop, the cowpea would be planted on the same farm with the other two crops and provide nutrients for the plants as it fixes nitrogen into the soil. In addition, the haulm of the plant would be used as mulch for the soil and as it decomposes, it would release other nutrients back into the soil. After shelling the dried pods would also be used as a fertilizer or mulch. Sweet potato is a perennial plant however it is currently cultivated as an annual. It is a creeping plant and it covers the surface of the soil as it creeps. It can therefore be used as a cover crop to protect the surface of the soil from erosion. Chili pepper plant attracts several insects including bees due the flowers it produces. Biodiversity is therefore improved by having the plant on the farms.


Cowpea, chili pepper and sweet potato are very nutritious crops and can be used to feed mankind as well as animals. The crops together with the animals would provide all the macro and micronutrients needed by mankind for a healthy balanced diet. The diet of the people of ACER would be improved by these plants and honey from the bees. Several parts of the three crops are edible and provide different nutrients. Cowpea would be cultivated for the leaves, pods and seeds. Chili is grown for the fruit (pepper) and the leaves while the tubers and leaves of sweet potato are edible. The different edible parts guarantee food for the farmer immediately after the crop germinates. Attached is a table summarizing the nutrients derived from each plant and animal source.

Nutritional Information for Crops and Snails and Honey:


All the crops and plants are highly demanded on the Ghanaian market and their sale would provide income to the producer. Market prices of agricultural products are unstable and as a producer, in order to get the best prices the market has to be monitored. The mobile application technology is handy in that it allows consumers to bid on the agricultural products so that farmers can get the best prices for their produce. Farmers are able to communicate their harvest dates to consumers so that the latter will always have fresh produce. Fresh produce is of a higher nutritional quality and taste. Selling fresh produce increases profit for farmers and reduces the cost of storage.


In ACER, certain groups of people follow unproductive agricultural practices which have been passed down from earlier generations. The culture and beliefs of the people hamper agricultural productivity and sustainability and need to be changed. Bush burning and misuse of pesticides are among a few practices. Furthermore, gender roles may be very strict in certain communities and women may not be allowed in certain agricultural roles. This project would educate communities about the importance of involving all genders above the working age in agricultural work. Women would be empowered to participate in agriculture at every stage of production as opposed to the usual cooking and household duties.


Technology in this project would be demonstrated in several ways including ‘digital or mobile technology’, appropriate technology and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This vision includes a mobile technology which is a necessary tool for marketing agricultural produce. It solves the problem of immediate storage, transportation of harvest, post-harvest losses and unstable markets. Even though subsistence farmers lack the use of sophisticated farm machinery such as ploughs and harrows, majority of them have access to smart phones. Where smart phones are not available KASIL would operate the mobile application on their behalf.


Ghana’s agricultural policy would need to be modified to support agriculture as agriculture brings in more revenue to improve the economy. Policies which reduce imports and encourage export of agricultural produce would sustain this vision. Trade policies should allow more trade especially with the United Kingdom as the UK strives to find new trade partners after Brexit. Lower taxes on agricultural tools and inputs would also sustain the vision. 

In conclusion, these five foods do not only feed mankind but also service the environment. Subsistence farmers in ACER eat what they grow therefore if farmers could adopt the production of these five foods their nutrition and health would improve drastically. Their economic and financial states would also be improved as they use technology to sell their products to a wider market.

Summary of 'Regenerative' Functions of Each Food Produced:

1. Crops: Cowpea, Sweet Potato and Chili Pepper perform all or some of thhe following environmental functions:

 - supports soil by fixing nitrogen                                                                                          - supports growth of all crops as it fixes nitrogen into the soil                                              - dead plant parts, haulm and pods can be used as manure and mulch                              - covers the soil and prevents leaching of soil                                                                      - prevents eutrophication of rivers as it covers the soil                                                        - produces colorful flowers which provide nectar and pollen for the survival of bees          - attracts a multitude of beneficial insects to increase biodiversity                                        - reduces greenhouse gases in atmosphere by converting atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen for the soil                                                                                                                - suppresses weeds as it covers the soil                                                                              -used in water management as it reduces evaporation from soils                                        -controls diseases and some pests                                                                                      - used in water management as it reduces evaporation from soils                                      - increases organic matter content of soils                                                                            - controls diseases and some pests                                                                                      - increases diversity especially arthropod abundance                                                          - flowers attract several pollinators and increases biodiversity                                              - all three crops mature in 3 to 4 months

 Snails and Bees

- faecal matter is used as manure                                                                                         - capable of consuming weeds on farms                                                                               - their shells are a rich source of calcium and other nutrients and can be used to fertilize the soil                                                                                                                                  - bees serve as pollinators to increase crop productivity                                                      - dead bees serve a s food for other animals 

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Team (2)

Kwasi's profile
Comfort's profile
Comfort Pinto

Role added on team:

"Comfort Pinto is the current Project Coordinator at Heifer International Ghana Office. She will be the Project Coordinator for this vision. She has experience in the implementation of educational and nutritional projects. She is also an expert in vegetable production."

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Attachments (3)

Patent Application Receipt.pdf

This is the official receipt of my patent application for the agricultural innovation. For security and intellectual property reasons, certain confidential information has been removed and would be made available as soon as a patent is granted.


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Photo of Trupti Jain

hi Kwasi: good evening from India. Nice submission. will love to learn if your farmers are facing water shortage in summer and winter? Are they having their rainy period crops disturbed due to water logging or flood in monsoon period? If yes then we will love to help you. For last 30 years we are working in this subject. we are helping our smallholders with our World Bank, UNFCCC, Securing Water for Food (USAID) and Millennium Alliance (DFID) awarded innovation BHUNGROO, which saves farmers from drought and flood, doubles farmers income and improves soil fertility. We are currently helping more than 100000 farming families across India, SEAsia, EAsia & Africa. We have also designed Youth Climate Leaders and Women Climate Leaders and winner of UN's Gender Just Climate Technology award as well as Green Climate Fund's Gender Champion award. I am sure both Youth Climate Leaders and Women Climate Leaders will add strength to your program.
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