Int’l confab on ecological agric begins at Jirapa

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture

A five-day international conference on ecological farming in West Africa has opened at Jirapa in the Upper West Region to support ecological agriculture.

The conference has brought together non-governmental organisations implementing ecological agriculture in Ghana,  Mali,  Burkina Faso, Senegal,  Canada and the United States of America, (USA) to analyse what each country had been doing with regards to promoting ecological agriculture through the cultivation of local seeds,  application of organic manure and growing of trees.

Opening the conference, the Coordinating Director for the Lawra Municipal Assembly, Mr Majeed Mohammed decried the extent to which human activities had caused mayhem to the environment and said those practices were against adequate food production.

According to him, the ecological framework being projected by Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), which was the implementing partner in Ghana had seen the growth of trees and adequate grass cover in some communities in the Lawra municipality and Nandom district.

“It will surprise you to know that some communities in Lawra have not experienced bush burning in the last five years due to extensive education on the menace by a partner of this noble network to promote ecological agriculture,” he stated and further called on government to support the initiative.

The Executive Director for Groundswell International, a non-governmental organisation in the USA that was providing aid for the pursuance of the ecological agriculture module, Mr Steve Brescia said his organisation had been supporting organisations in five West African countries to embark on ecological agriculture since 2009.

He said member countries have been urged to form farmer networks that would share information on organic farming, compost production, improved and nutrition, among others.

“What we require is that traditional authorities in beneficiary districts will embrace the concept and formulate policies and frameworks that will help sustain the project beyond donor support,” Mr Brescia appealed.

Executive Director for CIKOD, Bernard Guri hinted that although the promotion of ecological farming had been accepted by government, they would need more favourable policies in order to ensure a nationwide success.

“Government has responded to the project by providing a 10 per cent subsidy for farmers who would want to use compost on their farms but it is limited to the compost factory in Accra only and we hope going forward it will be extended to other compost making factories across board,” Mr Guru said.

He was of the view that through the organisation’s Farmer Managed Regeneration Project, a lot of perceived deserts in the region had been cultivated.

“Our chiefs have been very supportive of the agenda but we would want to be acknowledged by the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies because government has challenged us to produce more local seeds if we want farmers to grow them,” the director expressed.

The conference would afford the partners a platform to deliberate on successes, challenges and future implementation plans.

FROM FORDJOUR LYDIA DARLINGTON

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