Farmers embrace ‘Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration Project’
By William N-lanjerborr Jalulah
The uncertainties in rainfall patterns in Ghana, and for that matter the Upper East Region, has negatively affected general agricultural activities over the years, resulting in poor food production and poor livestock keeping.
The situation has been further aggravated, as farmers and the general public continue to fell trees and set bushes on fire indiscriminately. This, they do without considering the devastating effects of their activities on the environment and general agricultural activities.
Although some stakeholders in the agricultural sector have made some interventions to educate farmers on the essence of preserving the environment by avoiding the unnecessary felling of trees, and bush burning, the response has not been encouraging enough.
However, the introduction of the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration Project (FMNR) by World Vision Ghana in the Talensi-Nabdam District two years ago, has been overwhelmingly embraced by farmers in the beneficiary districts and communities.
After success at Yameriga, Tongo-Beo, Yindure, and Wakii in the Talensi-Nabdam District, the project has now been extended to the Garu-Tempane, Bawku West, and Kassena-Nankana West districts, all in the Upper East Region.
The basic method of the FMNR is that the farmer selects the stumps or shrubs he or she will utilise, and decides how many stems will be allowed to grow on each stump, based on the farmer’s needs and ultimate purpose for reforestation.
Excess stems are then cut, and side branches pruned off up to half way the trunk. A good farmer will then return two to six months for touch-up pruning, and thereby stimulate faster growth rates and produce straighter stems.
There is no set system or hard and fast rules for the FMNR. Farmers are given guidelines, but are free to choose the number of stumps per hectare and stems per stump to leave, and the time span between subsequent pruning and harvest of stems and the method of pruning.
At start-up training workshops for the beneficiary farmers in the Garu-Tempane, Bawku West, and Kassena-Nankana West Districts, Mr. Norbert Baba Akolbila, Area Development Programme of World Vision Ghana for the Talensi-Nabdam District, noted that if the FMNR was well managed, it would bring a lot of benefits to the framers.
According to him, some of the benefits include easy access to fuel wood, land reclamation and forest regeneration, increase in crop yields, and provision of shade, serving as windbreaks, and increase in soil fertility.
Citing countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Chad, which experienced desertification some years back, the adoption and practice of the FMNR concept has saved the situation, thus improving upon the living standards of the people.
Mr. Akolbila emphasised that in Niger Republic, for example, over a 20-year period, the FMNR has spread to over five million hectares of farmlands. The spread, he said, was through largely by word of mouth from farmer to farmer.
He told the participants, mainly farmers, that World Vision was not against the conventional tree planting methods, but by contrast, the FMNR was cheap, rapid and replicable without going for support from external donors or the government.
He said before the pilot programme started in the Talensi-Nabdam District, Tony Rinaudo of World Vision Australia trained farmers in the district on the application of the know-how. They were later sent to Burkina Faso to learn more about the application of the project.
Touching on the success story of the Talensi-Nabdam District, Mr. Akolbila said just two years after piloting the FMNR in the selected communities, medicinal plants were now available, animals now get enough fodder to feed on, people can now get thatch to roof their houses, the soil has become rich in nutrients, and women no longer commute long distances in search of fuel wood.
According to him, anybody, including women and children, can practice the FMNR, and it could be done on individual farmers’ farmlands, communal lands around buildings, and schools. He observed that the materials for the FMNR were easy to come by, since it included simple tools like sickles, machetes and axes, which can easily be acquired in those communities.
Madam Benedicta Pealore, Operation Base Team (OBT) Leader of World Vision Ghana in the Upper East Region, launched the project at separate functions at Garu in the Garu-Tempane District, Zebilla in the Bawku West District, and Sirigu in the Kessena-Nankana West District.
The launch attracted stakeholders, including chiefs, assembly members, religious leaders, security agencies, the District Assembly, Ministry of Food and Agriculture staff and Fire Service personnel.
Madam Pealore said the success of the project in the Talensi-Nabdam District in Ghana, which is of its first kind in the country, had propelled the donor, World Vision Australia, to extend it to the other districts in the Region.
She observed that the FMNR was one of the best interventions that could be used to curb desertification and other environmental degradation in the region and the country at large, emphasising that it had been tried and tested in Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali with great impact.
In all the districts, the district chief executives and district directors of agriculture pledged to ensure the success of the project by providing the necessary support for both the farmers and World Vision, so as to make the environment sustainable.
The participants were also taken through a field demonstration exercise on how to apply the technology of the FMNR after the start-up workshop.
They unanimously embraced the project, and promised their commitment to its success. They, therefore, called for the full enforcement of bye-laws on bush burning, and also appealed to the district assemblies, duty bearers and traditional leaders to ensure that people who flout such bye-laws are heavily fined to serve as a deterrent to others.
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