Field Activity Report
PFG acknowledging the relevance of the regenerative or ecologically based agriculture model to sustainable agriculture practice has over the last few months taken the necessary steps to instill the principles into the youth across its operational areas. The major principle behind the PFGs concept has been the limited application of inorganic chemicals. Overutilization of inorganic agrochemicals has rendered most soils in the Ashanti region less productive as major soil fauna have been killed as a result of excessive application of pesticides such as organophosphates, herbicides and fungicides. This approach to farming has consequently affected biodiversity in the enclave. Last month, some sections of the youth in vegetable production were given the necessary training on the concept of regenerative agriculture principles which take some of its inferences from the organic farming concept with limited disturbance to the natural environment.
To completely overcome the poor production challenges confronting small-holder farmers across PFGs project jurisdiction, within the first and second week of September 2022, the technical lead of PFG held five youth onsite to undergo a hands-on practical decomposition and application procedure of chicken droppings across the non-uniform landscape of the 30 acres PFGs demonstration farm including the identification of some important trees and indigenous medicinal plants for conservation. This concept of tree identification and conservation is in line with the Agroforestry practice of Farmer Managed Natural Regenerative practice (FMNRP), where farmers are encouraged to nurture some important trees on their farms for biodiversity conservation and climate change impact mitigation while serving the healthcare needs of people.
PFG mindful of the diversified fauna and flora across the Ashanti region has revived this concept to help the youth conserve the land and improve its productivity. During the month under review, these selected youths were first taken through the decomposition processes of organic manure and its effect if applied in a less decomposed form. Two different forms of animal organic manures were demonstrated and assessed for their effective decomposition nature. Based on the taught principles, the participants were well able to make the best choice.
The application technique on-site was followed subsequently after such a demonstration exercise. It was done in two approaches, firstly, manuring during planting and secondly, manuring after germination. Under manuring during planting, they were taught how to use the manure to conserve moisture within the hole and around the planted seedlings, especially under limited rains. They were also trained on the kind of manure required under such circumstances and quantity required.
Under established plantation or germinated plants on the field, they were taught how to apply the manure by taking into consideration the topography of the land. Trainees were made to understand that the ultimate objective of manuring is to maximize the benefits of the land, therefore unregulated application could reduce its benefits and increase cost, therefore the best approach is to assess the landscape before applying either across the slope or uniformly on the land. This training was imperative as the current generation of youth who are into agriculture within the area have little knowledge about some basic approaches to farming. Their over-dependence on small-scale mining commonly called “galamsey” has left most with limited knowledge of these principles. The government clampdown on galamsey activity has increased the need for farming as an alternative. Hence, the need for these skills.
The hands-on training empowered the youth and saw them cover over 28 acres of PFGs demonstration land inundated with some level of slopes with animal manure. It is expected that these youth, will transfer these acquired skills to their peers who are now into farming following the government clampdown on “galamsey” activities across the country.
In our quest to conserve biodiversity and mitigate climate change impact, these trainees who doubled as contract workers and farmers were again taken through the Agroforestry practice of FMNRP. Here, they were thoroughly taken through the 30 acres PFGs demonstration farm for important tree identification. This was done participatory and interactively taking into account their indigenous knowledge. The transect walk resulted in the identification of multiple species of medicinal plants for the curing of typhoid, Malaria among others.
The principle behind the Farmer Managed Natural Regenerative Practice(FMRP) is conservation. Here, the youth were made to understand that trees are very important in diverse ways, therefore, they need to be protected. At least, for every acre, they were taught to conserve 6 trees. In the Ashanti region where cocoa farming is noted as the major income source or cash crop, the trainees were asked to leave at least 4 – 6 trees per acre. Acknowledging the sensitive nature of the cocoa tree to high temperatures and its vulnerability to climate change impact, the trainees were advised to encourage their parents and family to observe FMNRP to yield the maximum benefit for their agribusiness.
Even though over the years, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) has sensitized cocoa farmers about the threat posed by climate change to cocoa and the need to conserve trees on their farms, the application of this information remains a challenge. PFG having acknowledge this gap has instituted this participatory interactive transect work approach to help farmers appreciate the need to adopt measures that will help improve their yield while encouraging biodiversity and mitigating climate change impact.
During the transect walk across the farm, the youth were able to identify some trees of high medicinal value. The technical lead allowed them to educate their colleagues about its significance to their household needs and biodiversity population. This discussion drew the attention of their peers to the trees and the need to protect them when found on their farms and also avoid slash and burn practices. The approach yielded a fruitful discussion throughout the period. It is highly believed that these youth have drawn lessons from this interactive session, and will disseminate the information to their peers to protect trees and sustain the concept of regenerative practices.
PFG has targeted to train over 2000 small-holder farmers, particularly the youth in the next 2 years on the aforementioned technology to help provide sustainable livelihood and improved ecology for mining-affected communities in the Ashanti region. Given the necessary support, this can be achieved timely.