A GNA Feature by Fatima Anafu-Astanga
Yameriga (UE) April 12, GNA - “ The hills close to the community were difficult places to climb to because it was as bare as a desert and at any moment there was storm the community suffered the impact most because there were no trees to serve as wind breaks”.
Case at stake
Mr Baan Bantang told this reporter how the trend was eating deep into the environment until he heard of Farmer Managed Natural regeneration (FMNR) concept which the Yemeriga community called ‘Tintuug Lebge Tii’ in the Talensi local parlance meaning ‘shrub turned tree’.
The old farmer said prior to ‘Tintuug Lebge Tii’ concept said the behind the hills where the animals for food was a place of no return.
Mr Baan Bantang, a farmer and a leader of a community Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) project in Yameriga near Tongo made these comments in an interview when this reporter visited the community.
“Just look up at the hills close here now and attest to the tree cover. The old farmer said the success is because the community does not practice burning of trees and slashing of trees as it used to be hence making the Yameriga community a place to be.
The farmer said the community’s 32 hectares land restoration project is managed by community members themselves and to do this well, members are sensitised to embrace and fully participate in the implementation of the project.
Traditionally, mangroves, forests and agricultural lands are getting eroded while essential plants, fruits varieties are disappearing due to human activities the “Piliostigma leaves which women in the communities will pull fast to wrap bean paste for preparation ‘tobaani’.
Many more of such helpful shrubs and trees in the forests are lost due to human activities.
Globally forests and trees play key role in sustaining livelihoods, providing clean air, water and conserving the environment while responding to climate change.
However terrestrial biodiversity is depleting very fast.
In Ghana only 20 per cent of original forest remain with increasing impact of desertification. Available records also show that the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and of course the three newly created regions of the north were worst hit by desertification affecting the most poor and vulnerable.
Without efforts to salvage the situation communities will find the trend an irreplaceable loss because of rate of extinction of indigenous nutritious plants.
Some local foods and fruits remain rare and strange to the growing youthful population and today the scenery of most communities is a worry with increasing degradation of soils and poor food harvest trends.
Farmer managed natural re-generation and role of World Vision International
Globally, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration concept has come to the drawing board of many development partners and in Ghana, one of such organisations is World Vision helping to respond to climate change, soil and water conservation practices.
Facilitated by World Vision, the land restoration approach was piloted in the Talensi district since 2009, which is catching up well in the Talensi District.
The project, which has 57 communities in the district practising the model, according to the Project Manager, Mr Samuel Abasiba FMNR Manager aims at building the resilience of communities to environmental degradation and help to improve food security in the district.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Tongo, he said the goal of the project was to improve household food security and resilience among the people of the district through improvement of environment conditions using the FMNR concept and to increase the biomass.
He noted that FMNR was the best in land restoration in the Sahel regions as it was cheaper to practise, faster and easily adaptable by the people stressing that “the approach is best in bringing back dead soils to improve food productivity and a way of reducing the impact of climate change.
“It takes $1,000 to plant one hectare of land with trees and $20 to regenerate same land size with trees which are quicker and more rapid to grow”. He reiterated.
He also added that farmers do not need to be-labour themselves about where to find tree seedlings once good pruning and management of the shrubs were done on the land with growing shrubs.
Beneficiaries of the programme
With a target of nine (9) communities at the inception of the project, more than 12,000 beneficiaries have been reached out to under the WV ‘Tintuug Lebge Tii’ project and aside the Yameriga ‘Tutug lebge tii’ project, Tongo Beo, Wakii and Yinduri communities have shown evidence of well grown and matured shrubs.
Besides, 57 more communities have been reached out to and the concept well spread to the farming areas.
Madam Gmenoba Zaayella a ‘Tintuug Lebge Tii ‘community member who expressed gratitude to World Vision did not hide her smiles when she said “We are very grateful to World Vision for showing us the way”.
“From four hours in the morning, once upon a time in the past, we set off to fetch wood in wild, and only returned here to the community at 12 midday meanwhile, the fuel wood could not be used beyond two days’ She said.
“We are happy the project provides us a sustainable source of little wood at a time, seasonal fresh fruits and herbs and the community members have started seeing some of the extinct herbs regenerating” Madam Zaayella stressed.
Mr Samuel Abasiba said the FMNR concept was the best and a faster approach in land restoration approach and explained that planting of trees had become more difficult to sustain because of the long period of drought in the north.
He noted that though the role of traditional authorities was important in ensuring strict observation of the concept in view of challenges such as bush burning, there was the need for synergies by all stakeholders especially the traditional authorities and district Assemblies.
This they could do by stepping up educational programmes to prevent bush burning and small scale mining and tree felling in communities which were major challenges in the area so that together all could direct their energies to saving the environment from further degradation.
While commending the Ghana National Fire service, Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the collaboration, he urged development partners and citizens to adopt agro- ecological approach such as FMNR and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhanced food security and nutrition.
He also called on the Forestry commission (FC), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to adapt it as one of the approaches to land restoration.
Though he acknowledged efforts of many organisations taking to tree planting, he noted that cost of watering, protection was still a worry coupled with poor technical know -how and noted that types of trees and place of planting was key to their survival and therefore tree planting must be in context and needs of a community.
Outcomes of the programme
Today more than 750 hectares of degraded lands by farmers in the 57 communities and 1,500 hectares of FMNR farmlands have been restored and in addition to that, farmers received various forms of training in the management of livestock as a source of income generation for communities under the project.
The growing challenge of land degradation, poor soils and poor nutrition is a worrying phenomenon that call for communities to take steps to reclaim lost lands and improve food security.
One of the proven methods of FMNR is the fact that the practice is helping in this direction. Therefore, there is the need to work towards sustaining food security by integrating wild harvests from the forests and also maintaining good agricultural practices.