Farmers praise regreening Africa project 

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo 

Bolgatanga, Feb 25, GNA -Some beneficiaries under the Regreening Africa Project, in the three Northern Regions have shared their experiences of the interventions at a dissemination workshop in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region. 

The five and half year land restoration project, being implemented in parts of Northern Ghana to address challenges of climate change and livelihoods support is led by s consortium; Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF), World Vision Ghana, Oxfam, CARE, SahelEco, Catholic Relief Services and funded by the European Union in Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions. 

At the dissemination workshop, some beneficiaries recounted the benefits of the project which they said helped in the availability of fodder for livestock, medicinal plants, fuelwood, fruits, rafters for roofing homes, prevention of bush fires, compost making and improved food security. 

Mr John Akugre a farmer and a beneficiary from Tilli in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region noted that the intervention has led to the regeneration of enough fodder to feed their animals closer to their homes against the past when the animals strayed long distances to graze which led to people stealing or attacked by wild animals. 

Mrs Akurugsum Abugre from Boya-Adonsi in Bawku West District explained that apart from the value chain of the intervention including transport, shea butter, honey, and fuelwood, it also equipped them with indigenous knowledge on how to do compost manure to broadcast on their farms and as a result improved crop production. 

“One of the biggest relieve of the programme is the empowerment of the community, particularly women to form Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Through this, a lot of women who used to engage in environmental degradation activities such as felling of trees for charcoal burning have stopped and they are now able to take loans from the VLSAs to go into petty trading,” she disclosed. 

Naa Simon Yiryel III, Chief of Nandom Goziir in the Upper West Region, mentioned that bush burning used to be an annual endemic problem that destroyed farm produce and properties, however with the empowerment of the communities through the formation and training of community fire volunteers, there are no more incidents of bush fires in the area. 

Mr Edward Anaba Akunyagra, Project Manager of World Vision Ghana, explained that the project sought to directly reverse land degradation across eight countries in Sub Sahara Africa countries including Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Somalia, whilst integrating trees into the agriculture systems to improve livelihoods, food security and climate change resilience of smallholder farmers.  

Mr Akunyagra stressed that the vision of the project was to spur regreening among 500,000 households across one million hectares in the beneficiary countries to promote its scaling up. 

He explained that the success story of the intervention was the programme’s potential to mobilise and work with diverse partners such as the Departments of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, District Assemblies, and Traditional and Religious leaders to scale up evergreen agriculture, using local appropriate techniques including the Farmer Natural Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) and Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), grafting, establishing nurseries, planting trees and staging other agroforestry and sustainable land management interventions. 

Mr Philip Atiim, Regreening Africa Project Manager of the Catholic Relief Services, said as part of the project sustainability process, plans were advanced to establish Northern Ghana Restorative Initiatives that will constitute multi-stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to ensure sustenance and expansion of the savannah landscape restoration and secure long-term success of the interventions. 

Ms Emilie Smith Dumont, Facilitator of the CIFOR and ICRAF, entreated implementing agents to ensure the sustenance of the land restoration movement at the local and national levels. 

Ms Gloria Kukurije Adeyiga, a Research Scientist from the CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana at the Bolgatanga office, said the gender component of the project has helped reverse some traditional norms which made women’s access to fertile lands for farming difficult.