Researcher calls for national taskforce to fight illegal lumbering

Dumasua (B/A)� Dr John Akparep, a Researcher and Senior Lecturer at the University of Development Studies, has called for the establishment of a national taskforce to fight illegal chainsaw operations and preserve the forest resources.

The taskforce would intensify surveillance on the shoulders of forest reserves and combat illegal timber logging, which was depleting forest resources and affecting national biodiversity, he said.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop on Tuesday at Dumasua in the Sunyani West District, Dr Akparep said agriculture, as the bedrock of Ghana’s economy, was largely dependent on the strength of the nation’s forest and trees, which was fast depleting.

He said with emphasis on cash crop farming, agriculture remained the main driving force of Ghana’s economy as it accounted for approximately 42 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and also employed 54 per cent of the national workforce.

The workshop was organised by the Ghana Association of Commercial Tree Growers and Cash Crops (GACTACC) with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).

It is in line with a project, dubbed: Advocating for conservation of cash crops and trees against illegal lumbering for sustainable use, being implemented by the Association with funding from the BUSAC Fund and its partners.

Attended by representatives from the Forestry Commission, Stool Lands, Civil Society Organisations, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the workshop created opportunity and common platform for the participants to brainstorm on the effective way of protecting national forest reserves and cash crops.

Dr Akparep said aside illegal chainsaw operations, the taskforce would check the uncontrolled activities of sand winners, charcoal burners, illegal small scale miners, yam stick cutters as well as activities of Fulani herdsmen, which were contributing to forest destruction.

He said cash crop farms such as cocoa, cashew, oil palm, acacia, mangoes, coffee, rubber and moringa were threatened due to forest destruction, adding that if the situation was not brought under control, the country would suffer in the long term.

Mr Joseph Yeboah, the Chairman of the GACTACC, said annual average earnings of farmers engaged in cash crops were declining due to tropical deforestation.

He lauded the BUSAC Fund for the support and appealed to residents of forest fringe communities to help prevent illegal lumbering and other negative environmental practices by arresting the perpetrators involved.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Elephants devastate farms in 21 communities in Assin South

Pillar 19-Tinkorang (C/R)- More than 21 farming communities bordering the evergreen Kakum forest reserve in the Assin South District of the Central Region have had their farmers destroyed by elephants.

The rampaging elephants destroyed crops and foodstuffs including cocoa, cocoyam, yam, cassava, plantain and watermelon.

They also uprooted and slanted plantains, pawpaw, maize and cocoa tree in their attempt to pick their fruits.

Several droppings of their faeces were seen scattered over acres of farms in major affected communities such as Abodweseso, Aboabo Camp, Kwafokrom, Homaho, Serebourkrom and Pillar 19-Tinkorang.

An official of the Game and Wildlife Service confirmed the raid in farms to the Ghana News Agency at Assin Homaho and urged the farmers to adhere to farm protection methods to end the raids.

According to him, the farmers have been trained on “pepper fencing” method, which involved the use of pepper, grease, rope and dirty oil to fence their farms.

Mr Emmanuel Kwesi Andoh, one of the farmers whose farm was raided, described the pepper fencing method as good but very expensive to the ordinary farmer.

“It is good but we can’t afford it because it cost averagely GH 900.00 � 1000.00 for an acre of a cocoa farm to be fenced for every six months. This is too much for us to bear,” he said.

Mr Kwabena Blewu, District Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) said he had visited the affected communities to access the extent of destruction.

He described the destruction as extensive and assured the affected farmers of the Organization’s support.

Source: Ghana News Agency

First Lady donates items to three Institutions

Accra- First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday, distributed food and household items to three physically challenged institutions and the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, at a short presentation ceremony, in Accra.

The gesture was done under the First Lady’s Rebecca Foundation.

The beneficiary institutions are Mampong School for the Deaf, State School for the Deaf, Adjei Kojo and the Akropong School for the Blind.

A statement issued by the Office of the First Lady in Accra, said the assorted items presented to the three institutions included some bags of rice, oil, sugar, shoes and clothes.

The rest are gowns and diapers, which went to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to be used by nursing mothers on admission at the Hospital.

Mrs. Akufo-Addo, Founder of the Rebecca Foundation, presented two big gallons of oil, two 50 kilos weight of sugar, 20 bags of rice as well as five boxes of shoes and five boxes of-Samaritan-Purse-goodies, in a set of three packages for each of the three institutions.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs Akufo-Addo thanked the institutions for the wonderful work they were doing, and urged the recipients to make prudent use of the items.

The administrators of the institutions expressed their appreciation to the First Lady for the kind gesture, which they said would go a long way to help cater for the students as well as for the patients of the hospital.

Source: Ghana News Agency

KITA to boosts smallholder farmers’ capacity in Agro value addition

Effiduase (Ash), – The Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA), is making moves to provide training to about 180 small holder farmers in Asante Effiduase, to help boost their capacities in adding value to their farm produce for improved their incomes.

Mr Samuel Owusu Takyi, the Executive Director of KITA who gave the hint at an ordinary meeting of the Asante Effiduase Farmers’ Co-operative Union, at Effiduase, said KITA is rolling out an expansive training scheme under which 20 of the Co-operative members would be selected for an initial trainer of trainers’ workshop.

He said each of the 20, would in turn train eight members, in a bid to extend the knowledge, skills and practical experience, thus, in all 180 of these farmers, predominantly into cocoa production, cassava, maize and vegetables farming, would have benefited from the programme.

The training, would also cover alternative livelihood support programmes such as bee-keeping, soap and yoghurt production, among other food processing techniques.

Mr Takyi said the goal was to help boost the capacities and incomes as well as optimizing the production levels of these small holder farmers who formed the majority in the Country’s agricultural industry but were crippled by low capitals, lacked of technology and technical know-how in agricultural production and value chain on the local and competitive global market.

Majority of these smallholder farmers who produce various agricultural products such as cocoa, rice, maize, fruits, vegetables, among others for the international markets, local processing companies and households, are also seriously challenged with illiteracy, poverty, lack of technical know-how, financial access and the likes, which really hinders productivity, value addition and agribusiness in the Country, he added.

The Executive Director maintained that agriculture’s strong pivotal role in the economy of the state could only be enhanced to its fullest potential when both the financial and technical capacities of farmers have been prioritized and strengthened.

These include trainings, extension services, access to credit, capacity building of farmers in the areas of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and others”, he added.

Mr Takyi urged government to strengthen various governmental institutions responsible for the wellbeing of farmers in the areas of production, marketing and distribution, processing and enterprising, such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, COCOBOD and others, in order to augment farmers’ efforts.

He also urged various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and developmental partners to strengthen support to farmers especially those in the rural and poverty-prone areas in order to aid the country’s sustainable development through improved and sustainable agriculture and agribusinesses.

Mr Clement Duku, Chairman of the Farmers’ Co-operative Union, urged government, NGOs and developmental partners to support them in accessing the various inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, land, labour and cash, to improve and sustain growth, yield and returns.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Rainfall pattern has changed in Ghana – EPA

Accra- Dr Emmanuel Tachie-Obeng, the National Focal Person on Climate Change Education and Awareness, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on Wednesday said the country’s rainfall pattern has changed and become unpredictable over the past 30 years.

Statistical analysis over the years shows that the change has occurred significantly in the savannah zone, which is the country’s breadbasket, he said.

The savannah zone, over the past 30 years, did not record any rains in January and February; but used to experience few rains in April and May until the main raining seasons starts in June and ends in November, Dr Tachie-Obeng said.

He explained, however, that in recent years the raining season, which goes with the planting period, had been pushed to the end of June or early July and ends in November.

Dr Tachie-Obeng said this at a workshop organised in Accra by the EPA, in collaboration with the Ghana News Agency, for a cross section of journalists on the overview of climate change in Ghana.

The EPA/GNA media training aims at equipping journalists, especially those of the GNA, with the tools and skills in the reportage of climate change issues.

Touching on the shift in the rainfall pattern in the southern sector of the country, Dr Tachie-Obeng said there had been a decline in the volumes of rain in the months of February and March.

A critical study of data over the period shows that generally the volume and distribution of rains has reduced. In the past, we experienced some drizzling in May but now all these have stopped, he said.

The impact of the change is being felt by the country in many sectors including economic, energy, health, water, and agriculture, especially food production.

While describing the trend as worrying, Dr Tachie-Obeng said the decline in rainfall had a direct effect on the production cycle of maize, rice, cassava and cocoa.

He said due to the changes, studies had projected that the number of regions where the country’s main cash crop cocoa was cultivated would reduce from five to two.

Dr Tachie-Obeng suggested that in order to build resistance to the situation and help food production, there was the need for the Government to fast track the One Village One Dam to conserve water for farming activities all year round.

He said through the Green Climate Fund, some climate-smart agricultural projects had begun to help increase food production and ensure food security.

Dr Tachie-Obeng hinted that the country was expected to mobilise nearly 22.6 billion dollars of investment from both domestic and international public and private sources of which 10.11 billion dollars was needed for mitigation and 12.42 billion dollars for adaptation.

Mr Kwaku Osei-Bonsu, the Acting General Manager of the Ghana News Agency, said the training sought to enhance the media’s role in monitoring and reporting on the local issues of climate change.

The training formed part of the new broader scope of the Agency to continue to play active role in national affairs, he said.

Mr Osei-Bonsu, therefore, challenged journalists to use their reportage to accelerate climate change action through advocacy and information dissemination aimed at achieving national climate goals.

He said the lack of public interest and the ever increasing complexity and geographical scope of climate change were some of the challenges that journalists faced when trying to report on climate change and environmental issues.

Climate change news can be boring, scientific, complicated and full of doom and gloom, but these issues are nevertheless important and the journalists have to make sure the audience find these topics interesting, he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency