My personal experience with data collection
My journey for data collection started from the Czech Republic during the summer holidays in September 2017. I got on a bus from Prague to Berlin and flew from Berlin to Amsterdam and finally landed on the shores of Ghana. My data collection was to be held in the Savelugu Nanton District of the northern region of Ghana. I live in the southern capital region of Ghana, Accra and so had to get to northern region by bus. It takes twelve hours from the south to the north. It was a very interesting trip because we had stop overs for meals and rest. I landed in the northern region after twelve hours of an interesting but stressful journey. I got unto a taxi and headed straight to my accommodation for which I had made earlier arrangements. I was logging with a friend. I was so tired I could not go straight to start my mission, so I had some rest.
The next day, I made a few calls which got me connected to the regional district assembly office and the ministry of food and agriculture in Kpong Tamale, a suburb of the Savelugu Nanton District. A meeting was arranged and my mission of data collection within the region was made known to the officials. The officials were very delighted to have me on board and to help me with my data collection. One influential factor for their cooperation was the fact that I was coming from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Europe. I was assigned to one research field assistant who had in depth knowledge about my study area. Upon having a detailed discussion with him, we set out to pilot my questionnaire which was my instrument for assessing primary data from crop farmers within my study area. I had 120 crop farmers to enumerate within five communities; Yong (20), Nanton (40), Bihinaayilli (20), Challam (20) and Tibali (20) respectively. After piloting 15 questionnaires within two communities, it was necessitated that I review my questionnaire, so that evening I made a few adjustments to my questionnaire and sent it to my supervisor in Prague for review. He quickly gave me a positive feedback the next day and so I was ready to collect my data.
The communities are quite far from each other and accessibility by road was quite problematic hence my supporting research assistant picked me up every morning with his motor bike to the field. It was very sunny and very tiring, but I was focused on collecting the data. Each questionnaire administered took about 10 to 15 minutes and in cases were there was the need for translation it took about 20 to 30 minutes. The main language spoken by the people in the region is Dagbani but I was quite fortunate to have a few farmers who could understand English. Farmers were very cooperative and willing to give responses but in some few cases some farmers saw our activity as a routine which yielded no results, so were not ready to participate. The time of my data collection was their season for harvesting groundnut and most of the farmers I enumerated gave me fresh harvested groundnut to take home. On one of my daily data collection exercise, I met with female farmers who were also into shea butter production. They took some time off their busy schedule and educated me on how the shea butter is produced from the shea butter tree. It was an interesting experience.
All too soon it was time to bring my one-week data collection to an end. My research topic is based on the impact on mobile phone technology on agricultural information provided to the farmers, so my questions ranged from looking at farmers perception about mobile phone farming information on weather and prices, the usefulness of this service and the challenges they face with this service.
I managed to get 110 respondents out of the expected 120. I offered some remuneration to the research assistant for his assistance and exchanged good pleasantries with him. The next day I was on board my bus and headed back to Accra. It was really an unforgettable experience.