Let’s protect public lands for national use – Prof Frimpong-Boateng

By Lydia Asamoah, GNA
Accra, March 28, GNA – Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has appealed to state authorities, chiefs and individuals to desist from encroaching on public lands to preserve them for their intended purposes.

He stated:’This is a very bad thing that I am noticing everywhere, university lands are being encroached upon, CSIR lands in Farrakhan, in the Airport Residential area, in Fomesua, Kwadaso and here at the( Regional Maritime University(RMU) in Nungua, there is so much encroachment.

‘I will beg and appeal to the authorities involved, our chiefs, the Tema Development Corporation and all the municipal authorities just to leave these lands alone because we need them to develop our nation. Our universities need land to expand.

‘Please these encroachments must stop.’
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said these in response to an appeal by authorities of the RMU to the Government to intervene in saving their land, which had been heavily encroached upon.

The Vice Chancellor of the RMU, Prof. Elvis Nyarko, who briefed the Minister during a working tour of the University, said most of the institution’s land, had been taken over by encroachers, including a religious organisation.

He said the encroachment was impeding the expansion of the facilities of the School, which played a critical role in the maritime industry.

Commenting on the importance of the Maritime University, the Minister described the RMU ‘as a very important facility to the nation that could help the country in the promotion of the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), with a specialty in the area of Marine Engineering and Transportation.’

He said the Government was very much interested in the School because it was offering STEM programmes.

‘Even though RMU is under Ministry of Transport, we are here because we are promoting the study of Science, Technology and Engineering and Mathematics,’ he explained.

‘As we went around, we could see that this is a technical university that has specialised in Marine Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electronics, Refrigeration and Welding, and indeed some Junior High School students can come here and study proper welding so that they can work in merchant ships.

‘The university is also training people working in Oil and Gas, and Safety Measures. We have a lot of things in this country and so if we are able to gather ourselves and focus to put things together, the sky will be our limit.’

He explained that the Government intended to make the teaching of the STEM subjects interesting to children all the way from the primary school to the university level to whip-up and sustain their interest.

The RMU’s mandate is to train personnel for the Maritime, Oil and Gas and ancillary industries to acquire knowledge, excellence and discipline in academic, professional, vocational and research work. It also runs the International Maritime Organisation’s mandatory and other short courses and seminars.

It currently has 90 per cent of its students as Ghanaians and 10 per cent from the four other partner African countries, with 95 per cent of its staff being Ghanaians.

 

Source: modernghana.com

A struggle for land and survival in Kenya’s restive highlands

A young herder from the Samburu pastoral community grazes his family cattle on the dwindling pasture of the Loisaba wildlife conservancy, Kenya. By TONY KARUMBA (AFP)

A young herder from the Samburu pastoral community grazes his family cattle on the dwindling pasture of the Loisaba wildlife conservancy, Kenya. By TONY KARUMBA (AFP)

 

By: Tristan MCCONNELL

Laikipia (Kenya) (AFP) – The broad plains of Mugie, a huge estate on a high plateau northwest of Mount Kenya, are crisscrossed with cattle trails and the wildlife is mostly gone.

The knee-high grass remains, but not for long, reckons manager Josh Perrett.

Tensions between semi-nomadic pastoralists and settled landowners are nothing new, nor is competition between livestock and wildlife, but in Kenya’s central Laikipia highlands they are taking a destructive, sometimes violent turn.

Last month perhaps 30,000 livestock arrived on Mugie, displacing wildlife. The illegal herders — some armed with spears, others with AK47s — cut through fences, making off with wire and posts. The shooting, looting, poaching and rustling that accompanied them left Perrett despondent.

“Twenty years of time, effort, sweat, money… it’s fallen apart in two weeks, destroyed,” says the 35-year-old.

“Before, you would see elephant, a few hundred head of buffalo, Jackson’s hartebeest, oryx, Grant’s gazelle, impala. Now you see thousands of head of cattle, a lot of sheep and goats.”

At the 44,000-acre (17,600-hectare) Suyian ranch, south of Mugie, thatched huts for tourists were burned down and shots fired this week as herders swept in. Black and white landowners alike speak of invasions, fear and siege.

Too many people, too much livestock

A recent four-decade study by the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi uncovered “catastrophic… widespread” declines in Kenyan wildlife

The dangerous situation in Laikipia is an acute expression of a chronic and complex tangle of population growth, livestock increases, overgrazing, erratic rainfall, climate change, weapons, money and politics.

A recently published four-decade study by the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi uncovered “catastrophic… widespread” declines in Kenyan wildlife as herds of livestock displace wild animals.

The data was Kenya specific but the problem is continental.

“At the basis of all this is the human population explosion,” says lead author Joe Ogutu.

The report blamed “policy, institutional and market failures” and said regulation was needed to reduce livestock numbers, which have increased 76 percent while wildlife fell by 68 percent.

As pastoralist populations in Kenya have grown so have their herds, grazing sparse pasture into desert

As pastoralist populations have grown so have their herds, grazing sparse pasture into desert. Exacerbating the situation, the value of cattle has increased dramatically, making it a smart investment for urban elites, a mobile bank account hidden from scrutiny and taxation.

When land can no longer sustain their livestock, the people move.

In Kenya, Laikipia’s private and community reserves and ranches are the grassy frontier between the pastoralist north and the agricultural south.

“Population growth, livestock growth, that’s the pressure on conservation,” said Tom Silvester, the 49-year-old manager of Loisaba, a 56,000-acre conservancy to the east of Mugie which is recovering from large-scale illegal grazing last year.

Tens of thousands of cattle a day reduced Loisaba’s grass plains to tufts of dry sedge and stubble, spike thorn, acacia and shimmering croton bushes.

Legal vs. illegal grazing

A Grevy’s zebra, a threatened species, grazes in the Loisaba wildlife conservancy in northern Laikpia where wildlife is losing ground to cattle herds

Well-managed, grassland acts like a reservoir in tough times.

Loisaba, Mugie and others have established controlled grazing programmes with neighbouring communities enabling the survival of both livestock and wildlife, but the system breaks down when huge herds arrive.

“We are neighbours with Loisaba, we are part of the whole thing,” says 70-year-old Lesibia Larari, with 70 cows and silver rings in his stretched earlobes. “We have a stake in it but the others do not care about being good neighbours.”

Adowan Letowon, a 28-year-old Samburu “moran” or warrior, with a long knife in his belt and a mobile phone in his hand, has relied on Loisaba to get his cattle through every dry season and drought since he was 13.

“We have been here for long. Our children, our cattle do not die because of this land,” he says.

In easier times neighbouring communities are a buffer against illegal grazers, but when they come in their hundreds with tens of thousands of cattle they are unstoppable.

Nevertheless, “the answer is not fences and guns, it is conversation and understanding,” says Charles Lekalasimi, a 24-year-old Samburu university student interning at Loisaba.

Like most of the herders — legal and illegal — Lekalasimi is a moran.

He understands the social value of cattle and, he says, his agemates listen when he tells them 50 fat cows are better than 200 skinny ones. But, he warns, the warlike culture of morans means, “If you try to be aggressive or violent, they will knock you down!”

A looming disaster

Conversation and understanding look a lot like capitulation.

Perrett is negotiating with the Samburu and Pokot to leave their guns and dogs behind, stop killing the wildlife and keep sheep and goats out in return for access for less destructive cattle.

But he expects Mugie to be “a dust bowl” by the time they leave.

Meanwhile, the wildlife tourism that drives the conservancy’s business model is suspended. “What we were selling, you can’t sell that now,” he says.

Managing coexistence in an evermore crowded world is a challenge for individuals and government, but residents and landowners criticise Kenya for not playing its part.

Last month President Uhuru Kenyatta condemned those who “invade land” in Laikipia but took no action against lawbreakers, while local leaders have stoked tensions by encouraging pastoralists to take grass they say belongs to the herders.

With national elections due in August, few expect vote-costing action against the illegal grazers, while the ethnic logic of Kenyan politics means some candidates stand to benefit from a favourable shift in population dynamics ahead of the vote.

“The solution is coexistence, talking, dialogue. Recognising that resources are limited and working out how to equitably divide it between wildlife and livestock,” says Silvester.

But if that fails, if the law is not applied to protect land, if livestock herds are not reduced to a sustainable level, if land management is not improved, the coming disaster will hit everyone and everything, he says.

“If we don’t succeed, the terrible, apocalyptic vision is the guy sitting on a rock in the desert, with a begging bowl waiting for food aid.”

 

Source: mordenghana.com

Golden Exotics to halt production in Ghana if…

 

The inability of security agencies and state authorities to protect the farmlands of the Golden Exotics limited will take a different turn if the current land encroachment challenge faced by the company continuous.

According to Ghana’s largest Pineapple and Banana producing company, more than 200 hectares of its farm lands at Obom in the Ga South Municipality have been encroached upon by some members of the public, sand winners and estate developers.

Speaking to JOYBUSINESS before taking journalists through the farm site in Accra, Managing Director  Olivier Chassag says, the situation has led to a reduction in production and staff layoffs despite measures put in place to avert the situation

 

From 2014 till date the company’s staff strength of about 4,000 has reduced to 1,500 due to some challenges with encroachment and business environment.

Mr Chassang says the company will have no option than to halt production if its lands cannot be secured.

After a tour with some journalists, Corporate Affairs and Administration manager, George Kporye outlined the extent of damage endured as a result of the actions of encroachers.

He hinted that despite arrangements by the company to construct landmark pillars on their land has met the counter actions of land-guards and estate developers who have invaded and destroyed more than 1000 hectares of suckers on the farm.

The negative impact of sand winners and estate developers in the area is becoming a major setback for not only Golden Exotics but also other small-scale farmers around.

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

Estate Developers Seize Golden Exotics Farmlands

By: Melvin Tarlue

Golden Exotics Limited, the largest producer and exporter of banana and pineapple in Ghana, has expressed worry about the rapid encroachment on its farmlands by some real estate developers.

According to the company, sand winning and the encroachment on its farmlands at Obom by the developers in the Ga South Municipality of the Greater Accra Region was adversely affecting its operations.

Managing Director of Golden Exotics Ghana Limited, Olivier Chassang, who made this known to journalists in an interview recently, accused KAS Estates Limited of destroying the company’s farmlands through encroachment and sand winning.

The development, Mr. Chassang indicated, was negatively affecting the company’s operations, leading to reduction in its output and workers.

According to him, should the conditions persist, the company, which in 2015 exported about 52,000 tons of bananas and 5,000 tons of pineapples to the European markets, would be compelled to fold up.

He said the French-owned banana and pineapple producing company may not be able to farm on its lands leased to it by families at Obom in the near future owing to the development.

The company has had to cut down operations in the Obom area and reduce its staff from 700 to 400 and 200 currently.

The company has also had to cut its volume of production over the years – 2010/2011- over 10,000 tonnes of pineapples, 2012; 8,000 tonnes 2014: 6,000 tonnes 2015; 4,000 tonnes 2016 is 3,600 tonnes.

The encroachment has been ongoing for a long time, Mr. Chassang stated, adding that the company had decided to take the matter up in court since all efforts to get the developers off its lands had proven futile.

“KAS Real Estate company has been notorious in encroaching on our land in the Obom area and acts with impunity and alleged support from the local police in the area,” Corporate Affairs and Administration Manager, Golden Exotics Limited, George Kporye said.

He alleged that all Golden Exotics’ fallow lands had been encroached upon by the real estate developers, who have bribed the police at Amasaman in order to carry out their nefarious acts.

The destruction of the farmlands is mostly carried out by hired land guards from KAS Estates Limited at dawn or during holidays under the protection of police personnel from the Amasaman District Police Command, he claimed.

 

Source: mordenghana.com

 

Govt. must assist farmers with land acquisition -Tema best farmer

 

56-year-old James Kweku Thompson Bosompra, who started farming as a hobby, has won the 2016 Tema best farmers’ award.

In order to get more persons engaged in farming, James Bosompra said the government should assist farmers with the acquisition of lands, while he entreated chiefs to reserve vast parcels of land for their youth who would like to enter into farming.

James Bosompra, a middle school graduate, until 2010, when he decided to go into full scale farming, was cultivating tomatoes and onions on less than a half acre of land at Michel Camp, Tema.

He was motivated to go into full time farming when his subsistence farming began fetching some substantial income.

Since 2010, he had been able to raise 40 sheep, 77 goats, 56 turkeys, 2,500 cockerels and 36 local birds.

Besides, he had 5.5 acres of land on which he cultivated onions, tomatoes and plantain.

James Bosompra had three permanent workers and a casual worker who helped him and his wife on his farm.

In his acknowledgement speech, he advised the unemployed youth to venture into agriculture which most Ghanaians consider to be the preserve for the uneducated or illiterates. The middle school graduate said farming has now become lucrative.

He commended the farmers in the metropolis and nationwide for their daily toils on their farmlands.

“Farming is very tiring but lucrative,” James Thompson Bosompra indicated.

Mr Adjei Annang, Member of Council of State and chairman for the occasion congratulated farmers for their hard work and commitment to ensure that everybody is fed in the country.

He was, however, unhappy that Ghanaians were divided along political lines, thereby affecting the distribution of farming materials.

He said Ghanaians have over the years painted a gloomy picture of agriculture, when according to him facts on the ground were different.

He called for attitudinal change of the Ghanaian, advising that governments should be supported in their bid to help grow agriculture.

Mr. Annang appealed to chiefs and clans to willingly release lands for farming to save the country huge revenues spent on food imports.

Similarly, in Ashaiman, Abdul Malik Yaaya was adjudged the best farmer for the 32nd celebration. He is into livestock production and has a mango plantation at Dodowa.

Abdul Malik Yaaya, in his acknowledgement speech, appealed to the Ashaiman Traditional Council to reserve lands for farming.

He was unhappy that most farmlands in Ashaiman had been haphazardly sold out to developers when vast lands could be reserved for farming to feed the citizens.

Ibrahim Baidoo, Ashaiman Municipal Assembly Chief Executive, thanked the farmers for keeping faith in the government’s efforts in ensuring that their needs were supplied in time.

The theme for this year’s celebration was -‘Agriculture, a business response to economic growth’ and Mr. Baidoo underscored that agriculture’s importance to poverty reduction went beyond its direct impact on the farmer’s income.

He explained that it is the driver for the economy and the best hope for food security in Ghana and the world at large.

In order to expand their businesses, he said the assembly had established the Business Advisory Center that would prepare farmers, agro processors and fish mongers to access funding arrangement from EDIF, GTZ and Rural Enterprise Fund.

The Ashaiman Assembly, he added, had taken steps to flush out people who had illegally encroached on the IDA lands.

Ibrahim Baidoo announced that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had supplied the assembly with crop seeds for distribution to the farmers who had their fields destroyed by the June 2015 rains in Ashaiman.

The items were worth GHc204,360 and they included 12,000kg of rice, 45kg of onions and 10,000kg maize.

The FAO additionally assisted the assembly in de-silting the main drain at the dam site.

 

Source: mordenghana.com

Reserve Land For Farming – Best Farmer

By: Vincent Kubi, Ashaiman

A 93-year-old man, who was adjudged the Overall Best Farmer in the Ashaiman Municipality for the year 2016, has expressed worried about the indiscriminate sale of farmlands in the area by the relevant authorities.

He therefore urged the Ashaiman Traditional Council and the Municipal Assembly to reserve land for farming.

Alhaji Abdul Malik Yaba, who rears cattle, sheep, Guinea fowls, donkey, has 10-acre maize farm and four-acre mango plantation.

He made the appeal when he was crowned the Overall Best Farmer for Ashaiman at the 32nd Farmers’ Day celebration.

For his prize, he took home a Wellington boot, four cutlasses, fridge, television set, wax print, knapsack sprayer and a certificate.

A total of 11 farmers received prizes during the programme.

The citation accompanying the award stated that the father of 27 started farming at the age of 25 when he was a cowboy.

At a tender age, he stated trading in livestock in Burkina Faso, Kumasi and Ashaiman. He currently employs seven young workers on his farm and also offers financial support to onion farmers.

Ibrahim Baidoo, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Ashaiman, in a keynote address, stated that Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has supplied ASHMA with crop seeds worth GH₵204,360 for onward distribution to farmers whose fields were destroyed by floods in June 2015.

He said that the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly (ASHMA) intends to attract more youth into the farming through the establishment of Farmer Service Centers to provide tractor services for farmers.

“The farmers are only to register at the service centers where they would be issued with identity cards to benefit from the service.

Mr. Baidoo sounded a warning to unscrupulous people who smuggle fertilizers to neighbouring countries to sell.

“Let me hasten to state that the law would not spare anybody who indulges in such nefarious practices in the municipality. When caught, they would be dealt with severely to serve as deterrent to others.”

On his part, Nii Annan Adjor I, Regent of Ashaiman, who chaired the occasion, assured the farmers that land would be reserved purposely for farming.

According to him, a committee comprising the Assembly, Traditional Council and the farmers would be set up to ensure that farmers have adequate land to farm.

 

Source: mordenghana.com