• Philip Tengzu

Farmers in northern Ghana to benefit climate smart intervention

Some farmers in eight selected communities in northern Ghana have been earmarked to benefit from a climate intervention project that seeks to improve the farmers’ production and increased economic opportunities for improved livelihoods.

The project targets about 100,000 value chain actors in the Upper East and Upper West Regions with specific emphasis from the Nachala and Saakulu in the Sissala East Municipality, Upper West Region; Dalaasa and Naadema communities in the Builsa South District; Yameriga and Awaradone in the Talensi District and Tarikom and Gbango communities in the Bawku West District in the Upper East Region.

The project is dubbed “Creating Lands of Opportunity: Transforming Livelihoods through Landscape Restoration in the Sahel”.

It is being implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), A Rocha Ghana, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Ministry of Ecological Transition (MiTE) through the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)-Global Mechanism (GM) is the donor for the project.

Dr. Iddrisu Yahaya, Lead Researcher on the project at CSIR-SARI

Speaking at a validation workshop for the project in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, Dr. Iddrisu Yahaya, the Lead Researcher on the project at CSIR-SARI based in Wa, noted that they have conducted a baseline survey on the challenges the farmers face in their production process to enable the project address those challenges.

He said the survey analysis was conducted on food crop and livestock value chains including maize, soya beans, cowpea goats, and sheep among others in the selected communities.

He added that the survey identified farmers’ constraints relating to agronomic practices and marketing techniques as well as the need to address those constraints.

“We have seen that a lot of foreign companies come in to buy such crops as soya beans, and when they come the middlemen go the villages and buy the produce from farmers in sacks then come and weigh for the companies.

“At the end of the project procurement of weighing scales for the beneficiary communities will be done so that when people come to buy they will weigh to sell to them”, he explained.

He added that they will introduce community seed production in the beneficiary communities to train and encourage farmers to produce seeds to help address the issue of difficulty in accessing improved seeds during planting.

Dr. Julius Yirzagla, Researcher with CSIR-SARI

Dr. Julius Yirzagla, a Researcher with the CSIR-SARI based in Bawku, indicated that the trade fair component of the project will expose farmers to improved crop varieties as well as help provide readily available markets to the farmers.

“Producers knowing they have a readily available market will be committed to their production and will add quality to their production to achieve their production targets and improve their livelihoods.

“The trade fair will establish linkages between farmers and buyers and bring about sustainability in their crop production and productivity”, he explained.

Dr. Yirzagla observed that the project has developed a sustainable value chain development plan which will improve the productivity of the farmers including building their capacities in Good Agronomic Practices (GAP), effective marketing techniques, and as well as trade fair to link the farmers to the markets.

Dorcas Owusuaa Agyei, Project Officer for the IUCN

On her part, Madam Dorcas Owusuaa Agyei, the Project Officer for the IUCN, said they chose to implement the project in the northern sector because that is the sahel part of the country with a high threat of desertification.

She expressed hope that the project will yield the needed result of achieving landscape restoration, building the capacity of farmers to produce climate-smart crops, and improving income generation activities for the communities.

“So at the end of the day we want to see communities who are resilient to climate change and producing climate-smart products like maize and getting revenue out of it, integrating tree planting, practicing agroforestry and things that are going to benefit them while our environment is safe so that we will reduce pressure on our forest”, she explained.

Mr Godwin Evenyo Dzekoto, Northern Sector Manager of A Rocha Ghana

Meanwhile, Mr Godwin Evenyo Dzekoto, the Northern Sector Manager of A Rocha Ghana, noted that his outfit will also focus on the development of renewable energy for the communities such as solar energy and clean energy for cooking, which is a critical component of human lives.

He indicated that access to an improved source of energy for cooking for instance will help reduce the community’s over-dependence on forest for wood fuel for cooking.

Some of the farmers expressed optimism that the project will help boost their production capabilities, but also request that they should be trained on compost preparation to help reduce their over-dependence on the chemical fertilizer which had become very expensive to buy.

Farmers from beneficiary communities, District Planning Officers, Agricultural Extension Officers, District Directors, and input dealers among others attended the inception workshop.

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