The Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Agriculture, has called for a unified voice from all stakeholders against illegal gold mining activities (Galamsey).
It said that had become necessary because the activities were threating Ghana’s Cocoa sector.
Mr Anthony Selorm K. Morrison, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG), who made the call at a news conference in Accra on Thursday, said cocoa farms in Sefwi areas like, Juaboso, Bia and Akontomra Landscape area in the Western North Region, were facing aggressive encroachment by galamsey operators.
He said those areas produced a chunk of Ghana’s cocoa and food crops, and that due to ‘galamsey’ activities hundreds of farmers had lost their sources of livelihoods, while many others remained afraid of losing their farmlands overnight.
Mr Morrison stated that aside the encroachments, other farmers had reported serious defects and destructions to their farms due to the use of heavy metal-polluted water in spraying cocoa farms.
He said the community members had blamed the heightened incidence of the illegality on the lack of effective law enforcement, coordination, corruption on the part of officials, complex involvement of traditional authorities, incomprehensive collaboration and consultation among relevant stakeholders and the lack of political will.
Mr Morrison said while local communities believed in a collective action in the fight against ‘galamsey,’ they wanted to first see commitment, action and leadership by the government to stop known political leaders, chiefs and influential business women and men involved in the activity.
The Alliance called for the involvement of community members in taking collective actions against the fight, to ensure sustainability of programmes and activities, and prevent distorted communication by other powerful interest groups, when government failed to show leadership and action, he said.
The Alliance, urged the government to implement policies and budget that respected and invested in community actions and rights, ensuring that the little gains did not go to waste, and encouraged all other stakeholders, particularly the traditional authority, and politicians to play their roles and live up to expectation.
Mr Morrison said it was believed that the government was overwhelmed with current happenings, and widespread opposition against the strategies adopted for the effective combating of the menace and called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
A short video was shown presenting fresh evidence from the field to reveal the level of impunity in the fight against illegal mining showing the rate of forest loss to ‘galamsey,’
destruction of precious and critical water sources for forest fringe communities and how the illegal miners have left huge trails of mud and toxic waste such as deadly mercury, poisoning water sources used by local and vulnerable communities.
Mr Morrison said it was sad and frustrating to note that until now, no traditional authority, District Assembly, Environmental and Forest institutions had owned up to any sale of land or issue of land or permits to any persons and group of miners.
He said the situation now suggested a state of apathy and a culture of silence, and urged community members, particularly groups like the Landscape Management Board in Juabeso and Sefwi to partner government to address the situation.
Mr Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, the Deputy General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), called for a swift and effective strategy to halt ‘galamsey’ activities, which was posing a looming national health threat to current and future generations.
Mr Elijah Kofi Owusu, the Chairman, Juaboso, Bia Landscape Management Board, said the current situation was devastating and that government ought to involve all stakeholders in the fight.
Finding a lucrative spot in sweet potato farming – Farmer highlights its profitability
Emmanuel Ashiabie has been a farmer for the past 30 years and has in recent years found a sweet spot in the production of sweet potatoes, describing it as a lucrative venture.
Based in a town known as Aberful; Awutu Senya in the Central Region, Mr. Ashiabie who started farming at age 19 is currently promoting the cultivation and consumption of sweet potatoes for maximum profit.
The farmer in an interview with the Ghanaian Farmer TV Show said he is happy with his harvest.
A tuber of sweet potato takes only three to four months to mature and in a good year, Mr. Emmanuel Ashiabie makes about GHC10,000 on an acre of sweet potato farm.
“An acre of sweet potato farm in good season can give you 50 of the 100KG sacks. And the price range is from GH100 to GH200 depending on the season and its availability,” he told the host of Ghanaian Farmer, Enyonam Manye.
Sweet potatoes require fewer inputs and less labour compared to other food crops like maize and cassava; this explains why the farmer diverted into sweet potatoes farming on a large scale.
“I was much more into cassava and maize farming and sweet potatoes were on a small piece of land. I started to do it on a large scale after I realised it’s more profitable with the ready market,” Mr. Ashiabie explained.
According to the International Potato Centre, an agricultural research organization, sweet potatoes are also hardy and more tolerant to harsh conditions like dry spells and poor soils.
The tuber can also stay in the soil long after maturity, making the time of harvest less critical.
Mr. Emmanuel Ashiabie who manages Emash Farms threw a challenge to other farmers to invest in sweet potato production as the profit is enormous.
While explaining why he chose to plant the white-fleshed type, he stated that it’s quite easy and doesn’t require a lot of water to perform well unlike the orange-fleshed one.
“In a good season, you can get more than 10 tubers of sweet potato on vine after harvest. If it’s affected by bad weather patterns, you should be getting five or six. Even with this, you won’t make losses.”
“The best season to plant sweet potatoes and get a good price is between May and September. It can be grown twice in a year.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ashiabie highlighted the challenges he faces as a farmer and one of the major ones is how real estate companies have taken over majority of the farmlands.
“Farmlands have become scarce because the estate companies have bought almost all of them. I used to rent 10 acres of land but that’s not the case anymore. We can’t get it to rent like before.
He appealed to the district to provide them with farming machinery including tractors as it is always a challenge hiring one during the farming season.
To help address the challenges in getting financial support, Mr. Ashiabie has planned to form a farmer-based organisation for potato producers. He said this will also help address poor pricing from the buyers.
“Potatoes are a cash-crop which can also be added to Ghana’s commodities for export. A lot of people in this area have stopped maize and cassava farming and are into potato production,” he added.
He acknowledged that the government’s subsidy on fertilizer has been helpful.
He expressed gratitude to Crocodile Matchets for supporting farmers in diverse ways.
Value Addition To Sweet Potatoes
Aside from selling sweet potatoes in its raw form to local markets, the farmers are optimistic that the establishment of a factory in the Awutu Senya area can help sell value-added products made from sweet potatoes.
This can include sweet potato flour for bread as one of its products. Sweet potato flour can also go into snacks like cakes and pies.
Bird Flu outbreak: Limit movement of poultry ahead of Eid-ul-Adha – Poultry Farmers
The Greater Accra Poultry Farmers Association is urging poultry farmers to be cautious and vigilant to avert a further spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza disease, otherwise known as Bird Flu, in the country.
After the outbreak of Bird Flu in parts of Ghana, the association has said education will be key in overcoming this challenge to the poultry industry.
“First and foremost, we are going to educate our farmers on the need to heighten their biosecurity… then we are also going to educate people buying from [them],” President of the Greater Accra Poultry Farmers Association, Michael Nyarko Ampem said to Citi News.
“More importantly, we encourage our members to reduce the movement of birds especially as Tuesday is a holiday, and we are going to have Eid-ul-Adha,” he added.
Mr. Ampem also stressed the need for better vigilance of the affected regions.
“We are going to encourage that some of these things are really monitored so that we do not transfer the flu from one region to another, but it is contained in the districts and regions where they are found.”
According to the Veterinary Services Directorate, the Bird Flu was detected in the Greater Accra, Central and Volta regions.
The outbreak of the disease follows the detection of similar cases in neighbouring countries since January 2021.
Cases of the Bird Flu disease were previously recorded in Ghana in 2007, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
Following the recent outbreak, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture announced a total ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from neighbouring countries where the prevalence of the disease has been confirmed.
A ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products within and from the affected regions and districts to other parts of the country, and strict inspection and issuance of permits to cover the movement of all poultry and poultry products from unaffected parts of the country has also been put in place.
In addition, the ministry said it has intensified public awareness and sensitisation by Regional Coordinating Councils and District Assemblies, especially in the affected areas.
Ministry announces Bird Flu in Ghana; bans importation of poultry from neighboring countries
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has confirmed the outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza disease, also known as Bird Flu, in the Greater Accra, Central and Volta regions.
It has, consequently, declared a total ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from neighbouring countries where the prevalence of the disease has been confirmed.
It has also placed a ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products within and from the affected regions and districts to other parts of the country, and strict
inspection and issuance of permits to cover the movement of all poultry and poultry products from unaffected parts of the country.
These were announced in a statement, signed on behalf of the Minister, Dr Patrick Abakeh, Director, Veterinary Services Directorate, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
“The zoonotic nature of the disease calls for public alert and vigilance to mitigate the possible impact on the poultry industry and public-health, in general, it cautioned.
It advised citizens to report any unusual deaths of domestic poultry and wild birds to the nearest Veterinary office and public authorities for public safety.
They should also avoid the handling of dead birds with bare hands and consume only well-cooked poultry meat and poultry products.
“The outbreak of the disease follows the detection of similar cases in neighbouring countries since January, 202,” it said.
“Through effective surveillance and disease control management, the Veterinary Services Directorate has prevented the extension of the disease into Ghana until now.”
It noted that cases of the Bird Flu disease were previously recorded in 2007, 2015, 2016 and 2018, with significant economic impact on affected poultry farmers.
The statement said the Ministry was also intensifying public awareness and sensitisation through the Regional Coordinating Councils and District Assemblies, especially in the affected areas.
It, however, urged the public not to panic because the Veterinary Services Directorate was taking all the necessary steps to contain the outbreak and spread of the disease.
It urged the public to contact Dr Abakeh on phone number 020-8240734 for further information.
The Center for Disease Control explains that the disease is caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses.
These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans.
However, sporadic human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred.
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