Researchers to unveil techniques for controlling weeds in cassava

Deputy Director-General, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture(IITA),Ibadan, Dr Kenton Dashiell; Project Leader, Cassava Weed Management Project, IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon; Senior Programme Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lawrence Kent; and the Technical Advisor,(Africa & Middle East) ,Agronomic Product Development, Bayer CropScience, Dr Mohammed Elsherif, at the 2017 Cassava Weed Management Project annual workshop at IITA, Ibadan on Monday.

Deputy Director-General, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture(IITA),Ibadan, Dr Kenton Dashiell; Project Leader, Cassava Weed Management Project, IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon; Senior Programme Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lawrence Kent; and the Technical Advisor,(Africa & Middle East) ,Agronomic Product Development, Bayer CropScience, Dr Mohammed Elsherif, at the 2017 Cassava Weed Management Project annual workshop at IITA, Ibadan on Monday.

Researchers working under the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture led Cassava Weed Management Project (IITA-CWMP) will this week share findings and recommendations on how to tackle weeds in cassava farming systems.

The sharing of research findings is part of activities marked for a week-long annual review and planning meeting and Steering Committee meeting scheduled to hold 27-30 March 2017 at IITA in Ibadan.

“We are optimistic that the key findings from our research will help farmers to tackle the problem of weeds in cassava, with the view to having more yield,” says the Project Leader of IITA-CWMP, Dr Alfred Dixon, who is also a Director with IITA on Monday.

Declaring the meeting open, Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General, Partnership for Delivery, said the goal of the project was to take off drudgery due to weeding in cassava farming systems.

“I am happy that this meeting will share findings that will impact positively on weed control,” Dr Dashiell said.

Grown on about 7 million hectares, cassava is a major staple in Nigeria and it has transited from a food security crop to a cash crop. However, yield per ha of the root crop is about 8 tons per ha or less than half the amount realised on research stations. One of the major factors affecting the yield of cassava is weeds. Most of those involved in weeding are women and children, often times skipping classes to assist in weeding in Nigeria.

In 2014, the Cassava Weed Management Project was conceived to address the problem of weeds in cassava. The 5-year project which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is exploring diverse weeds control methods including the use of simple motorised implements, use of safe and environmentally friendly herbicides, and the use of best-bet agronomic practices.

This year, which is the fourth, researchers, will make available findings of what has been done over the period.

Lawrence Kent of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said the findings of the project would contribute to improvement of cassava with positive impact on women and children who bear the burden of weeding in cassava.

“Our major task in this meeting is to translate research findings into recommendations that farmers can use to improve cassava farming and their livelihoods,” he said.

Dr Dixon said the project is in an exciting phase. “This is an exciting time for us… Because we are going to begin the sharing of new findings to farmers and farmers will begin to benefit,” Dr Dixon said.

The IITA Cassava Weed Management Project is being implemented in Nigeria by IITA in partnership with the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, University of Agriculture Makurdi, and the state-based Agricultural Development Programs of Abia, Benue, Ogun, Oyo; and non-governmental organisations including the Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) in Oyo and Abeokuta, and KOLPING in Abia.

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org, Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert.

 

Source: modernghana.com

 

Care For Water, Panacea For Food Needs

The growing need for water as a scare resource has become a concern for every nation in view of population expansion.

The uses of water and its importance to agriculture are critical in addressing food needs of the population.

It is estimated that the world’s population by 2050 would require a 60 per cent increase in food production to feed and water would be heavily depended on.

According to reports, 40 per cent of the world’s food is produced through irrigation. However, the water bodies that sustain the earth and through which irrigation is carried out are faced with all forms of abuse leading to threat to the natural ecosystem.

Irrigation is one source by which farmers use water from rivers or ground water to extend their cultivation through simple techniques during the lean seasons during which time the rains would have stopped.

The role of irrigation in supplementing the growing food needs of the population is crucial. The Sustainable Development goal (SDG) 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture can pass the test if these resources are protected.

Mr. Samuel Manu, Upper East Regional Manager of Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) in an interview said the availability of dams in communities contribute greatly to food needs of the people.

According to him the presence of dams and dug outs closer to the communities enable farmers to cultivate vegetables to augment food needs and their income.

He noted that communities in the Upper East Region, where water sources such as rivers, and dams were located, poultry especially guinea fowls lay their eggs earlier than usual and the growth rate very good.

He added that income from cultivation of vegetables have also helped to reduce rural and urban migration and improve on nutritional needs of communities.

Currently there are more than 22 irrigation projects in Ghana constructed by the IDA spanning more than 6,505 hectares.

In the Region most prominent of the existing irrigation schemes include the Tono Irrigation Project in the Kassena-Nankana District with an irrigable area of up to 2,500 ha and a total annual water requirement of 40 million m3; the Vea irrigation scheme in the Bongo District that has an irrigable area of up to 1,000 ha, and a total annual requirement of eight million m3.

Mr Manu said there were more than 200 dams and dug outs in the Region to support farmers in their off season.

These irrigation sites also contribute greatly to the water consumed in most homes. However increasingly, water resources have been threatened by growing scarcity of freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity and soils are being rapidly degraded.

Changing weather patterns are also putting even more pressure on the resources depended on, increasing risks associated with disasters such as droughts and floods, culminating from the impact of changing climate and the exploitation of water resources and rate of loss as envisioned account for a larger segment of the resource mobilised.

Meanwhile, fears of rising temperatures as indicated would continue to have implications on these resources and that would continue to reduce the length of crop cycles and increase water stress due to higher water evaporation rate.

Though these resource over the years offer farmers the space to undertake their farming activities, it has been subjected to pollution to water due to chemicals used by farmers and their attendant side effects that render harm to crops, livestock, and also leading to salination of the soils rendering the pollution load higher with serious impact on drinking water quality hence its implications on public health.

The effect is not only on food production but livestock and fishing are also affected because of lack of forage for animals to graze while the rate of evaporation also impact on fish stocks due to changes in water sources.

If agriculture, forestry and fisheries can thrive in Ghana, to provide the needed food requirements for all then the water resource through which these can be achieved to nourish the expected two billion people by 2050 should be treated with care.

Mr. Manu, said a lot of wastage of water occur at watering points of dams, and other irrigation sites due to leakage and breakage of canals and drains.

According to him farmers also waste water when they open multiple valves and sprinklers at the same time and find it difficult to close them, rendering water to overflow the crops leading to waste.

In management of the water systems, he indicated that though farmers are trained to take up maintenance of the water system, the task is not properly followed because they continue to move on to other communities and do not pass on the skills.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, was heralded by Ghanaians for his policy on one district one dam as a leap to improving lives to all.

According to Mr. Manu, inventory of all existing dams is underway and that would enable his outfit present information to submit potential districts for the intervention.

Some recommendations for improved irrigation

The Ministry of Food Agriculture (MOFA) must increase education on use of agro-chemicals since farmers with little knowledge and effect of the product tends to apply it wrongly, and worst of all around irrigation sites, which pollute water resources.

There is the need for improved techniques for irrigation to facilitate the use of less water.

Planting of trees around water bodies to reduce evaporation is also very important as well as education of people to use domestic and industrial waste water for gardening at household and institutional levels.

The involvement of stakeholders in ensuring efficiency in the use of these resources is crucial especially in promoting local water management, effective maintenance at the communities to ensure effective use of water.

 

Source: The Chronicle

Government to scale up cocoa production, President assures

By Ken Sackey, GNA

 

Accra, March 28, GNA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday expressed government’s commitment to raise the country’s cocoa production level to a million tonnes.

Additionally, plans are afoot to ensure that more than 50 per cent of cocoa bean produced in the country is processed to enable Ghana derive maximum benefits and value from the commodity and make the sector lucrative.

President Akufo-Addo said this when inaugurating the Board of Directors of the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Company at the Flagstaff House in Accra.

The President noted that the activities of illegal miners, price volatility on the world market and the allegations of corruption at the Ghana Cocoa Board had contributed to the dwindling fortunes of the sector.

He said the sector being a mainstay of Ghana for over a century, ought to be accorded the necessary attention, as it contributed about a quarter of a the country’s earnings.

‘The sector has been washed with stories, which are being investigated. If these stories are true, measures will be put in place to ensure that they never occur again,’ he said.

President Akufo-Addo urged the board, chaired by Mr Hackman Owusu Agyemang, a former minister of state in the Kufuor administration, to help restore the country’s pride as a vibrant cocoa growing country.

He said the Chairman had considerable experience from the Food and Agriculture Organsiation (FAO) and indicated the other members on the board had been carefully chosen because they had the qualities to help revive the industry.

“It is an honours task, a task I am confident the calibre of men and women who are now on the board are going to be able to discharge. The Ghanaian people are looking at you. They want to see a new leaf turned in the manner in which our cocoa industry has been managed,” he said.

The President said the board would be supervised by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Afriyie Akoto, a passionate advocate for the cocoa industry.

“From where I am standing, I have put together a winning team and I am hoping that your performance will show that my judgment was right,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the board, Mr Agyemang said the team would work hard to revive the cocoa industry and achieve the government’s production target of one million tonnes of cocoa.

Other members on the board are Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO, Nana Adwoa Dokua, Nana Johnson Mensah, Nana Obeng Akrofi, Peter Atta Boakye, Charles Aduboahen and Carlos Kingsley Ahenkora.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Brong Ahafo Regional Technical Committee for ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign inaugurated

By  Nana Antwi Boasiako-Metro 90.5FM,Sunyani

 

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister for Food and Agriculture on Tuesday inaugurated Brong Ahafo regional technical committee for the implementation of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign in Sunyani, with a call on the youth and the public to go into commercial farming.

“The “Planting for Foods and Jobs Campaign” will focus initially on four key commodity value chains: maize, rice, soybean and sorghum” he added,

He said the technical team has been constituted in order to coordinate and monitor the main activities along the five pillars of the campaign.

According to him, the regional technical committee will also monitor the implementation of the program in the municipalities and districts to ensure that municipal and district technical committees which will be constituted to implement activities are captured in the action plan.

The Minister said “This campaign is designed to encourage all citizens both urban and rural, to take up farming as a full time and part time activity. It is intended to structure it along the lines of operation Feed Yourself Programme in the 1970s. The campaign will involve the production of rice, soya beans, sorghum and vegetables.”

“The secondary objective of the campaign is to provide job opportunities for the term unemployed youth in the agriculture and allied sectors. Through this policy intervention and strategic direction about 750,000 jobs, in both direct and indirect employment especially for the youth would be created during the first year. Also the tertiary objective is to create general awareness for all formal workers to either have farms or grow some cereals or vegetables establish backyards gardens, when enough land is not available and accessible”.

“You may recall that during the 2016 electioneering campaign, one of the key messages of the NPP was to modernize agriculture, improve food production efficiency, achieve food security, and profitability for our farmers, all aimed at significantly increasing agricultural productivity” he added.

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto said about 3,760723 MT of produce at a value of GH1.3billion would be created this year, 2017 from the programme, “compare to 2016 production level of 2,782,44 at a value of GH0.7 billion”.

“To ensure that the Campaign acts as a catalyst and forerunner of the agricultural transformation in the country, the programme, is anchored on five pillars 1) the provision of improved seeds, (2) supply of fertilizers,(3) provision of dedicated extension services, (4) marketing strategy and the infusion of (5) electronic platform in undertaking all activities in food and agriculture-e Agriculture”.

He said about 750,000 jobs, in both direct and indirect employment especially for the youth would be created during the first year.

Meanwhile Brong Ahafo regional Minister, Lawyer Kwaku Asomah Cheremeh who Chairs the committee in a speech stressed the need for expect to abide by the technicalities involved to implement the programme extremely well.

The Minister said huge amount has been fused into the project hence the need all to ensure successful implementation of the programme.

He reiterates the need for registered farmers to be educated on the projects ongoing

Lawyer Kwaku Asomah Cheremeh also called on the ministry for food and agriculture to make use of specialty personnel to make technicalities involved to all the stakeholders.

He said extension officers who would be drawn to the programme should be able to work to support the farmers to implement the programme successfully

The programme was attended by Regional Director of Agriculture, Dr. Cyril Quist and all the Municipal and District Agric officers in region.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Afforestation On Cocoa Farms – Ghana’s Approach To Reduce Carbon Emissions

Cocoa farmers receiving education on tree planting on farms photo: Sander Muilerman/WCF

Ghana has over the years witnessed huge forest loss, mainly as a result of the movements of the timber sector as well as expansion of the cocoa industry, which largely promotes zero shade cocoa production systems. This gradually has led to the shattering of the country’s forest landscapes, loss of wildlife corridors, and degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The expansion of the cocoa industry which eventually leads to forest loss is not driven by the desire to increase national production, but essentially challenge of land tenure system farmers face. Therefore, land tenure is an ongoing problem which enables forest loss through the removal of forests to establish cocoa farms. Ghana’s land tenure policy drives the lack of on-farm investment generally.

This prevents the expansion of cocoa farms via more environmentally sound production using greater shade. Consequently, there is limited incentive for farmers to plant or even maintain shade trees due to tenure issues associated with landowners, and landowners have limited rights to naturally occurring trees on their land. Awareness creation on tree tenure rights is also lacking.

Cocoa production in Ghana has been carried out in two main regions namely the moist semi-deciduous forest (Eastern, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central and Volta Regions) and high rainforest (Western Region) agro-ecological zones. Progressive conversion of forests in Ghana into cocoa fields, particularly in the Western Region, contributes to ongoing deforestation. There is a trend towards less shaded cocoa landscapes that undercuts the environmental sustainability of cocoa production and biodiversity conservation.

The sustainable production of cocoa plays a pivotal role for sustainable development, including poverty reduction. Cocoa cultivation that maintains higher proportions of shade trees (cocoa agroforestry) is increasingly being viewed as a sustainable land use practice that is environmentally preferable to other forms of agricultural activities in tropical forest regions because it contributes to biodiversity conservation.

A jointly coordinated environmental programme, known as Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme between Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) and Forestry Commission seeks to considerably reduce deforestation and degradation in the country’s cocoa landscape.

The project which would receive support from the Carbon Fund of the World Bank, aims to curb emissions driven by expansion of cocoa into forest areas, whilst also addressing illegal logging and chainsawing, as well as illegal mining.

By tackling these drivers, Ghana seeks to secure the future of its forests and make the cocoa sector climate-resilient, and at the same time sustaining and enhancing income and livelihood opportunities for farmers and forest users across the programme area. The programme covers 5.92 million hectares in five regions in Ghana-Western, Central, Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern, spanning across 92 administrative districts in the country. In addition, 79% off-reserve and 21% on-reserve areas, would be serviced by the programme. At the end of the day, a total of 12 million people almost evenly split between urban and rural areas would be encountered by the programme.

Mrs Roselyn F. Adjei, the National Focal Person for REDD+ and Forest Investment Programme Safeguards & Gender at the Forestry Commission said The Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme mainly targets cocoa growing areas in high forest zone of Ghana, with focus on commodity-cocoa.

Out of the analysis of drivers of deforestation, it was realised that agriculture expansion plays a key role and out of that cocoa stood out, she says.

“Cocoa was encroaching into forest reserve areas and farmers were just expanding their farms, leaving some of the old farms and establishing new farms. So there was the need to come together and have a programme where the cocoa benefits and the tree also benefits because they both need each other,” Mrs Adjei notes.

The main aim is to intensify cocoa production rather than to expand it within the same unit area to have more yield rather expansion, Mrs Adjei stresses.

“The amount of shades we have on cocoa farms because if cocoa farms are shaded very well, they can be classified as an open forest according Ghana’s forest definition. But without shade they are not, but with some level of shade from 15 percent canopy cover, they are classified as open forest and that will also increase forest cover,” she explains.

To ensure that farmers do not expand when productivity increases with expansion, Cocobod would also intends to put different pillars to curtail that.

“Pillars on policy and legislation, particularly on the law enforcement bit should be key because if people are getting more, they should not expand. So the law should be enforced, where the law enforcement agencies should always be on the watch to ensure people do not expand. Extension services should also go at the right time. There is the need for a lot of extension providers on the ground, even forestry extension in addition to the agricultural aspect.”

Due to the fact that in Ghana lands are owned by individuals, families, and even communities, it becomes a complex issue for even the government when it comes to acquisition.

“If they were government lands, the government can easily use them for specific purposes. But because they belong to people, you can’t just go in to oppose on them what they should do or otherwise. So it is just a matter of dialogue with individuals and conducting research on what is best suited for each land area and eventually we believe that stakeholders will get to understand or communities in particular why they need to leave a particular land for a particular land use,” she points out.

The programme also seeks to help address financial constraint encountered by farmers through the provision of finance to de-risk the cocoa sector by providing farmers with access to credit facilities.

“Cocoa is a major commodity and forms the base for beverages, so we are trying to bring private sector actors such as Nestle Ghana, Cadbury, etc. together and by making a point to them that cocoa, our natural material base is being depleted.

“This will go a long way to build up their programmes around the emissions reduction programme the country is developing so that they can tailor some of their funding be it microfinance scheme to help farmers, farmer education, inputs supply, helping with extension services, mapping of farms. That is where we think private sector can come in by getting hybrid seedlings that would be high yielding to farmers.”

At the moment the Forestry Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding with Touton Ghana which seeks to draw on Ghana’s REDD+ programme to develop their own module.

In terms of institutional arrangement, the programme is looking at forming small groups at the local level involving district assemblies, private sector actors, farmers, and other local community members to form a project management unit who would have their own management plan in place to manage the emissions reduction programme.

“What we have further gone ahead to do is the identification of deforestation hotspots, because we cannot just go into the whole landscape and begin everything. So there was an assessment on deforestation trends and hotspots and identified about six to nine hotspots. We call them hotspot intervention areas and these areas are sort of be managed like a whole programme on its own, with management body and use the same reporting structures to report to the national level.”

The Deputy Director, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Kwadwo Kissiedu Kwapong says it is supposed to improve land use and socio-economic developments in the forest zone in the cocoa growing areas.

“The issue is that it has been seen that cocoa is a major driver of deforestation in Ghana and so farmers expand their production by clearing more forests. This programme is targeting a situation where clearing more forests will not the case but already existing cocoa areas or reborn farm introduce more trees.”

“Currently the Cocobod strategy is adopting this and the recommendation is that instead of extending into forests you rather intensify an area per hectare. The focus is that cocoa production is more sustainable if it grows in a more forest condition. So far it is recommended that between 18-20 economic trees on both existing and new cocoa farms so farmers are being encouraged to do that.”

The project has gone through a stage where Ghana’s emission reduction document has been prepared and submitted to the Carbon Fund and supposed to have taken effect this month, but the final document should be submitted by April due to some changes to the document.

When the Carbon Fund approves of the document then implementation can begin.

“The idea is to get farmers not degrading the forests but planting more trees on their farms and for that matter increasing carbon stocks and when the carbon stocks increase, there will be benefits to the farmers in terms of benefits of payment. They have a target of how much carbon should be sequestered in a year over a certain period, and if Ghana is able to achieve that, the benefits in the form of cash and premium will be paid to farmers in communities who are doing this.”

Apart from increasing carbon stock, it is intended to increase the livelihood of the farmer, so while the farmer is benefiting from the carbon sequestration, it is expected that the economic trees that are planted on the farms would fetch income for the farmers.

A new law at forestry commission seeks to help farmers own those trees, and register them, he mentions. “A new document is being developed for farmers to register those trees that they planted and nurture, and when they are of age, farmers will harvest them to their benefit,” Mr Kwapong says.

The current arrangement does not allow farmers to own trees that they nurture on that farms, because the law stipulates that all naturally acquired trees belong to the state.

“So proper tree tenure arrangements are being done for farmers to own trees that they plant and nurture on their farms. The other side also is that as the trees are growing, there is going be high yield. The idea is that the more canopy you have on your cocoa farm, the higher your yield, and the higher the sustainability of your farm,” he emphases.

“Biodiversity is another thing-it is known or believe that the more unshaded your cocoa is, certain fauna are not able to live in those areas. So the more trees you introduce, the more habitat the place becomes for animals and some of them are beneficial to the farmer, so it is important we conserve the forest so that these animals can live in those areas and also support the farmer.”

Cocobod’s cocoa strategy document which is in the drafting stage, currently going through validation, supports the project and other sustainability programmes to ensure that cocoa is sustained and the livelihood of farmers who are the primary producers of cocoa benefits from their toils.

Apart from the cocoa strategy document, Cocobod has a cocoa rehabilitation arrangement which is guided by the strategy document that is also geared towards increasing cocoa production to about double the current size.

Ghana’s cocoa production peaked in the 2010/11 season at more than 1 million tonnes, dipped to under 750,000 tonnes in 2014/15 season before rebounding slightly last season.

“We are integrating climate smart cocoa arrangement in it, because it is expected we design standards that would make the farmer adopt certain practices that would make Ghana’s cocoa unique and sustainable. So we are designing a climate smart cocoa standards which would stipulates what standards a Ghanaian cocoa farmer should adopt to ensure that we sustain the environment and don’t degrade the environment and have cocoa tends out to be produced through climate smart.”

“We are training farmers, where extension officers are talking to farmers, so that farmers can grab this idea and implement on their farms to ensure that every cocoa comes out would be branded as such,” he states.

Illegal mining is a bane to sustainable development in the country, with many water bodies as well as agricultural lands destroyed in the process. One of the Major concern of Cocobod is illegal mining, he mentions.

He says Cocobod is trying to address the issue by bringing stakeholders together to forge a common solution to address the problem.

We are developing a communication strategy to get farmers and community opinion leaders to be aware of the dangers of destroying or selling farmland for someone to engage in illegal mining. Even though the communication strategy is yet to be rolled out, Cocobod periodically sensitise farmers on best farming practices on sustainability of cocoa farming using radio stations in communities.

“Ghana depends so much on cocoa and needs to be sustained. As Cocobod is on the national REDD plus committee and all the things that are being to ensure that REDD plus succeeds we are part of it and make sure we protect the cocoa environment to make coco sustainable.”

Sander Muilerman, Program Manager Climate Smart Cocoa – West Africa at the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) says the key to achieving real and sustained impact is land use planning and landscape governance in natural resources management.

It is important that companies work together and commit to end deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain, but this can only be truly successful when in-country it happens in partnership with all the other land use actors and stakeholders in the different cocoa landscapes.

We are opening a multi-stakeholder discussion process and seek alignment with the Ghana’s long term strategies for the cocoa, agricultural and forestry sectors, he emphasises.

“Only this can help ensure sustainable livelihoods, responsible use of natural resources, and productive cocoa farming systems; ‘people, planet and profit’. This statement of collective intent to end deforestation is but one vital step in a long process,” Mr Muilerman says.

WCF and its members focus on achieving an end to deforestation and forest degradation, basically by improving our understanding of the situation both nationally and locally, building strong partnerships and multi-stakeholder dialogue, and by aiming to keep cocoa within designated cocoa areas and convincing smallholder farmers to stay out of protected forests and national parks.

“This can only be achieved when existing cocoa farms provide sustainable livelihoods, and produce sufficient cocoa to achieve Ghana’s national production goals. The key to success is to convince and support farmers to responsibly use and intensify existing cocoa farms.

“On top of the industry’s existing efforts–among others through technical advice, professional service delivery and work on community development–the WCF is strongly focused on understanding how to make cocoa farming ‘climate-smart’.

“By understanding what it takes to make existing cocoa farming areas more resilient to climate change, we hope to ensure long-term sustainable cocoa production on current farm lands, again preventing further use of forests. Our current focus of enquiry and experimentation is for example on increasing the number of shade trees on farm, on training farmers on relevant climate-smart practices, and on considering the farmer business case of various agroforestry cocoa farming systems,” Mr Muilerman said.

Credit: Under the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships Programme

 

Source: modernghana.com

USAID Honors Fisherfolk For Actions Toward Improved Food Security

USAID/Ghana Private Sector Team Lead Richard Chen awards Theresa Freeman with the title of “Most Outstanding Fisheries Leadership in Fish Processing” at Feed the Future’s awards ceremony to honor those who work to protect Ghana’s fishing industry. Photo credit: Priscilla Addison, USAID/Ghana

USAID/Ghana Private Sector Team Lead Richard Chen awards Theresa Freeman with the title of “Most Outstanding Fisheries Leadership in Fish Processing” at Feed the Future’s awards ceremony to honor those who work to protect Ghana’s fishing industry. Photo credit: Priscilla Addison, USAID/Ghana

 

Accra, GHANA—On March 7, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Ghana’s Fisheries Commission, hosted an awards ceremony at Nungua beach to honor fishing communities and associations for their exemplary work to protect Ghana’s marine ecosystems and fish stocks. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Honorable Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, and USAID/Ghana Private Sector Team Lead Richard Chen attended and delivered remarks.

A total of18 fishing communities, associations and individuals residing along Ghana’s coastline were rewarded and honored for adopting responsible fishing practices. The awards ceremony aims to recognize women and men who support sustainable post-harvest practices and the preservation of Ghana’s marine ecosystems. SMFP, under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, works to rebuild fish stocks in Ghana and to curb overfishing.

“USAID is committed to working with the Government of Ghana to encourage the adoption of responsible fishing practices to prevent the depletion of Ghana’s fish stocks,” remarked Mr. Chen. “The purpose of this awards program is to spotlight outstanding leadership and dedication among individuals, communities and associations in the fishing sector, demonstrating good fishing management and practice.”

The awards ceremony, which is being held for the first time this year, will be held annually and will celebrate heroes of change in Ghana’s fisheries sector. The awards target institutions, associations, individuals and communities. Over 60 applications were received from Ghana’s four coastal regions. This event was organized by Feed the Future. In Ghana, Feed the Future works to increase the competitiveness of the fisheries, maize, rice and soy value chains to generate economic growth and market opportunities for vulnerable populations.

 

Source: modernghana.com

 

‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign gets to Volta Region

By: Ivy Setordjie,Joy News, Volta Region

The Volta regional technical committee for the implementation of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign has been inaugurated in the Volta Region with a call on the youth and the public to go into commercial farming.

A total of 7,914 farmers made of 5,885 males and 1,797 females have been registered for the campaign with the region registering 4,862 maize farmers to cultivate a total area of 14,400 Ha.

This means that the campaign’s target under maize production has been fully met. Hybrid maize would be established in the middle belt while the Open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) would be established in the southern and northern sectors of the region.

For rice, a total of 2,219 farmers have so far been registered and an area of 7,591Ha has been recorded and a deficit of 11,695 Ha of land is yet to be covered.

For vegetable production, a total 601 farmers have been registered for the cultivation of 2,499 Ha of land.

The Volta Region Minister, Archibald Yao Letsa, who Chairs the committee in a speech recently advised unemployed youth to go into farming to help increase food and raw material production instead of seeking for non-existing white-collar jobs.

He said Agriculture was a lucrative business if properly invested in.

He reminded the youth that venturing into farming would make them self-reliant and employers in the future.

He said that the advice to the youth has become imperative in view of the importance of farming to national growth and development.

“I want our youths to use their youthful agility toward commercial food production. This effort will enable them to improve their revenue base and become self-sufficient apart from contributing to national food security.” Dr Letsa said.

According to him, if many the youth go into commercial agriculture they would be able to cultivate many varieties during both rainy and dry seasons.

The minister also advised that the farming business requires patience, resilience, and commitment.

He reiterate the need for registered farmers to be educated  on the projects ongoing

He also announced that a lot of investors are interested in investing in the agric sector in the region, especially in the light of the current administration’s drive to establish a factory every district in Ghana.

The Regional Director of Agriculture, Samuel Kofi Larbi, said the technical team has been constituted in order to coordinate and monitor the main activities along the five pillars of the campaign.

According to him, the regional technical committee will also monitor the implementation of the program in the municipalities and districts to ensure that municipal and district technical committees which will be constituted to implement activities are captured in the action plan.

He said in line with the action plan for the implementation of the campaign, the regional, as well as the municipal and the district focal persons, have already been appointed and that farmer registration for the campaign are also ongoing.

He has, however, assured the farmers that the regional department of agriculture as well as the various municipal and the districts and departments are fully ready and committed to ensuring a successful implementation of the program.

“We are very much ready and committed to a successful Planting for Food and Jobs program,” he said

A member of the national technical committee, Kwame Amezah, said the policy within the national development agenda is to allow agriculture to contribute to the structural transformation of the economy and maximize the benefits of accelerated growths.

He said significant improvements in the productivity of the agricultural sector are required to raise the average income of Ghanaians.

Achieving sustainable food security in Ghana within the context of a phenomenal growth in population and increasing unemployment is a major challenge to the county development, Dr Amezah lamented

He said the campaign will focus on four key values chains – maize, rice, soybean, and sorghum – and promote peri-urban vegetable production. These will be outdoored for the industrial crops, cash crops, and livestock and others in subsequent years.

In 2008, the governing NPP introduced the fertilizer subsidy program with the aim of enhancing farmer access for increase crop productivity and subsequently growth in the agricultural sector.

The new government says it will continue with the fertilizer subsidy program it introduced in 2008 in addition to other incentives that will enhance the productivity of all category of farmers.

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

CSIR releases five new varieties of Cowpea

By Joyce Danso, GNA

 

Accra March 10, GNA – The Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for the first time in history has released five varieties of cowpea through the exploitation of molecular technology simultaneously.

The varieties are; Zaayura Padi, Soo-Sima, Diffeele, Wang Kae and Kirkhouse Benga one.

Dr Stephen K. Nutsugah, Director of Savana Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of CSIR who described the release of the five varieties as ground breaking event, said the varieties had three to four times higher yield than the other cowpeas.

Dr Nutsugah who made this known at the West African Cowpea Consortium (WACC) Annual meeting and Training Session in Accra for 41 participants said CSIR-SARI intends to release the latest varieties this year before the commencement of Ghana’s crop season.

The programme organised by CSIR-SARI and Kirkhouse Trust, a US based firm aimed at strengthening human and institutional capacity for cowpea research as well as providing selected infrastructure and equipment to enhance research capacity in cowpea improvement programme.

In Ghana, it is estimated that farmer yield of cowpea is 0.4 tonnes per hector however the new varieties are expected to increase farmer yield to 1.2 tonnes per hector.

Dr Nutsugah recounted that research into the new five varieties began in 2008 after scientists identified new sources of cowpea aphid resistant genotypes.

The Director of SARI noted that the new varieties were pest and disease resistant and would last longer.

He commended Kirkhouse Trust for bringing together research scientists and other professionals to create and disseminate international public goods that improve production and productivity that are pro-poor, gender equitable and environmentally sustainable.

Professor Michael Timko of University of Virginia, noted that over 75 per cent of cowpea production which took place in sub-Sahara Africa provided primary source of protein, income for small-holder farmers and contributed to subsistence crop farming.

However, he noted that the monetary loss in cowpea estimated between 100 million to one billion dollars annually was worrying.

Professor Timko said that was the reason why WACC and Kirkhouse Trust were building partnership to support cowpea improvement in West Africa through the use of molecular assisted breading and selection.

Dr V.K. Agyeman, Director General, CSIR commended Kirkhouse Trust for their increased and sustained support for research in Ghana

According to Dr Agyeman ‘CSIR-SARI alone has been a major beneficiary of a number of interventions since 2008 with an anticipated funding amounting to $656,333 dollars.’

Dr Agyeman said one of the major challenges of variety development was the expensive process and the long-time development process depending on the crop life cycle and breading strategy adopted.

In addition, the Director General noted that special skills were required to undertake the exercise.

He lauded government’s commitment towards developing agriculture and development of E-agriculture platform to address farmers needed.

Dr Agyeman said CSIR and Ministry of Food and Agriculture would work to ensure that cowpea was inculcated into government’s campaign on Planting for jobs.

He said transformation of livelihoods and reduction of poverty in West African Sub-region could be achieved if resultant low agricultural productivity was reserved.

 

Source: modernghana.com

 

One village one dam policy is key to agriculture growth

GNA Feature by Samuel Adadi Akapule
Bolgatanga, March 11, GNA – Ghana did not err when the country agreed with a group of African countries in 2003, under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, to allocate at least 10 per cent of public budgets to agriculture.

This was aimed at achieving six per cent growth in agriculture. One of the many good reasons for the decision is that empirically, it is established that agriculture contributes faster to poverty reduction than industrial investment does.

As a matter of fact, agricultural spending has wider redistributive effect than any other sector.

In Ghana, research has shown that at the national level, agricultural public expenditure has the highest returns in terms of agricultural productivity.

It is well established that for every one marginal cedi invested in agriculture, GH¢16.8 is returned. This is much higher than feeder roads returns of GH¢8.8 and GH¢1.3 for health.

In spite of this growing evidence of agriculture being the key in tackling poverty and transforming lives, the right amount of public investment is yet to be made in the sector.

In fact, researchers and think tanks including the Africa Centre for Energy Policy have it that agriculture share of public spending in Ghana is less than 10 per cent.

This is not only raising questions on the country’s commitment to the Maputo Declaration but also negatively affecting livelihoods.

Though very sad, it is not surprising to hear that the 3.6 per cent agricultural growth target for 2015 was not achieved.

Fortunately, the country has very huge potentials to grow and develop agriculture to the desired level, to accelerate development for improved livelihoods.

There are enormous agricultural investment opportunities in the country particularly the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (SADA), which occupies more than 50 per cent of the total land space of Ghana.

The Zone has vast land for agriculture and could be targeted for total economic transformation of the country through agriculture.

According to the Ministry of Finance, if the production of tomatoes and rice alone were the focus of Ghana, the nation would have been saving $ 400 million annually.

Targeting the SADA Zone and other parts of the country with the One Village One Dam Policy for all year round cropping of tomatoes and rice and revamping the Pwalugu Tomato Factory and the Tamale Rice Mills for agro-processing and value addition is the surest way and probably best policy option to help the country save $ 400 million annually and achieve sustainable macro-economic stability.

There is no doubt that the introduction of One Village One Dam Policy will undoubtedly increase food productivity and security, meet agricultural sector growth targets and fast-track the country’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly the goals on eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Another justification for the introduction of the policy is that, research has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the upsurge of climate change is having a great impact on food production and a telling effect on food security in the Northern Ecological Zone of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority.

History has it that in the 1980s, the Upper East Region used to have rainfall in April and farmers could get busy on their farms by the tail end of April and early May.

Those days, farmers got abundant harvests that enabled them to feed their families throughout the dry season.

But the question one may ask is that, is it the same situation today? Certainly no, the situation got worse after the 1990s when the Region started recording first rains of the year in May and June.

As if this delay was not enough, the rainfall pattern also became erratic thereby affecting food production adversely and causing food security problems.

Nowadays farmers in the area, particularly smallholder farmers, find it difficult if not impossible to feed their families throughout the lean season, which stretches up to five months in the year, before the onset of the next farming season.

The Upper East scenario cuts across all the ecological zones of SADA including the Northern, Upper West and Volta Regions, as well as some parts of the Brong- Ahafo Region.

The signs of climate change in the zones are becoming so alarming that if measures are not taken now, it would worsen the food security situation in all of those areas.

The provision of dams and dug-outs would not only help harvest rain water for agricultural activities particularly in the dry season.

It would also take care of the large volumes of water that usually engulf parts of the Region whenever the spillway of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso is opened, which often leads to the loss of human lives, animals and the destruction of farmlands and other valuable properties.

Rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and deposition of rainwater for reuse on-site, rather than allowing it to run off.

Its benefits include the availability of water for gardening, for livestock, irrigation, domestic use (with proper treatment), and indoor heating for houses.

In many places like the Guangzhou province in China, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Beijing (China) the water collected is just redirected to a deep pit with percolation.

All these are good lessons for Ghana to learn and to adopt. Rain water, which is a resource from God must not be allowed to go waste while we the country wallow’s in hunger.

To sum up, there is no doubt that the One Village One Dam Policy is the Key to Sustainable Agriculture Growth and Development in Ghana, particularly the Northern Savannah Ecological Zones.

The Government must be commended for taking a bold decision to initiate the move and earmarking GH¢94.5 million for the One-Village-One-Dam in the 2017 budget.

What is needed urgently is for the Government to facilitate the process by encouraging local public-private partnerships and also going into partnership with foreign investors to help the construction of more dams and dugouts as well as de-silting old ones.

When this is done it would help accelerate the transformational agenda and help Ghana to make significant gains in the achievement of the SDGs.

 

Source: modernghana.com

CSO Platform on agriculture inaugurated in Tamale

By Caesar Abagali, GNA
Tamale, March 12, GNA – The USAID under its Northern Ghana Governance Activity (NGGA), has inaugurated the Northern Ghana Civil Society Organisations Platform on agriculture.

It is aimed at strengthening CSO and private sector groups’ potentials for agricultural growth.

In line with the objective, the NGGA is supporting the revival of the Northern Ghana CSO Platform on agriculture, which URBANET, TradAid and CIKOD all local NGOs operating in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions are leading the platforms.

The Platform is a coalition of CSOs and private sector group and actors working in the agriculture value chain and meant to influence public policy processes that would improve agriculture outcomes in the north.

Mr Cyris Pul, Governance and Advocacy Specialist of the NGGA speaking at the inauguration ceremony in Tamale called for unity among CSO groups to ensure success.

He gave the assurance that the NGGA programme would strive harder to ensure improvement in agriculture growth in its operational areas.

He said the platform was expected to hold series of regional level CSO experience sharing and consultative forms to strengthen cross learning.

The NGGGA is a five-year project supported by USAID and implemented by a consortium of NGOs led by CARE International with Action Aid Ghana, WANEP-Ghana, SEND Ghana being the other partners who are working in 28 districts in Northern Ghana.

As part of Feed the Future, the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative, the NGGA works to fortify the co-ordination and integration of decentralised agricultural development and to promote responsive governance for improved agricultural development in Ghana.

 

Source: modernghana.com