Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Wife Detests GMOs But She's A Great Patronist

Npong shopping vegetables inside Tamale Central Market. Display are GMO tomatoes, pepper. 
Here i am in a crowded market. It’s just stopped raining and business as usual has resummed with people pushing pass each other, stopping by vendors of assorted items a market can offer. There are no rules of engagement here. The best shopper here is one with bargaining power, and that depicts a rare african market, a case in Tamale central market.

The market looked dangerously constructed, the walking lanes are narrow. Trucker pushers and owners worsened the situatuion as they force their ways through these narrow lanes, carelessly pushing shoppers side by side and some instances block the lane to offload their carriage.

I was not sure of what my wife meant when she stressed “buy fresh and good looking peper, tomatoes, okra, and salt? Do we have fresh and good looking salt too? I asked.

“Be sure not to also buy chemically induced vegetables for me, you know i am careful of my family’s health”, she commanded.

My wife is among millions of people in the world who habor bad feelings about genetically modified foods (GMOs). But she would not object to cakes, cholates made from genetically modified wheat as gift, fresh and good looking vegetables who genes have been modified to improve their desired traits such as good looking, nutritional content, it’s durabitity among other things.

Scientists are currently battling to correct the notion that GMOs are dangerous to health. According to Professor Wayne Powell from the university of Aberystwyth, the modification of plants in the laboratory is to enhance their desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides, pesticides, drought or improved their nutritional content and that nothing dangerous about the use of GMOs has been scientifically established. Prof. Powell was addressing seasoned journalists in Ghana who took part in in workshop on initiating dialogue on plants breeding, genetics and bioscience for farming organised by Bioscience for Farming in Africa (B4FA) for some selected sceince reporters held in Accra.
Npong and friend Mohammed Nurudeen doing some veg buying

He explained that, GM technology was developed after the second war II to help boost agriculture to meet global food supply. GM process involves the transfer of genes responsible for desired traits of plants such as drought and insects tolerance, or high nutritional content into a different plant. 

The best known example of this is the use of Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t. genes) used in corn and other crops.
He also disapproved negative comments associated to GM products and that GMOs are to ensure regular food supply to the increasing population by controlling pests, crops diseases and improving their nutritional content for the wellbeing of both humans and animals.

My wife has been a great patronist of GMO products at the sametime she detests it. She would not reject genetically modified wheat cholate, biscuit, neither would she buy bad looking vegetable from the market. Her attitude towards GMO s stem from protests and rumours making round alleging the dangers associated to GMOs. Ironically, my wife would also not go anywhere without her GSM cell phone which scienctists say are dangerous than the consumption of GMOs.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ghana Kick-starts Validation of Climate Change Policy Framework

The government of Ghana has started a nationwide validation of a draft climate change policy document to support the formulation of climate resilient policies and programmes to enable the state to adjust to cope with the challenges and impacts of climate change and global warming on development.
The National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) is to provide strategic direction and co-ordinate issues of climate change in Ghana. The NCCP surpasses ‘traditional’ climate change policy areas of adaptation and mitigation. It emphasises that social development is vital for, and cuts across, both of these areas.
The Director of the Ministry of Environement, Science, and Technology Mr. Fredua Agyeman said that the document after the validation would be laid before parliament for approval and adoption to become a national working document.
At a validation workshop organised for civil society organisations in Accra, the Director of MEST said that, the validation would ensure that the document was widely accepted by Ghanaians.
The Director who was addressing civil socieity organisation on behalf of the sector Minister Madam Sherry Ayittey pointed out that climate change which is a threat to livelihood affects Ghana’s economic performance and development prospects.
“Ghana’s climate is changing as a result of increased global emissions of greenhouse gases, with rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, floods and more weather extremes”, he said.
Africa the minister said is currently, faced with challenges of floods, and droughts that have affected thousands of peole socially, economically and development.
Climate change the minister said is now everybody’s business, and stakeholders need to be part in developing a National Climate Change Policy Framework (NCCPF) to ensure a climate resilient and climate compatible economy while achieving sustainable development and equitable low carbon economic growth for Ghana.
“The impact of climate change spans so many sectors, from agriculture to forests, and from health to social protection. Its impact on any or all of these poses a serious threat to our progress on the Millennium Development Goals and to our plans to become a middle income country. That is why we need a harmonised and coordinated climate change response”.
Mr. Agyeman explained that MEST exists to establish a strong national scientific and technological base for accelerated sustainable development of the country to enhance the quality of life for all and that the overall objective of MEST is to ensure accelerated socio-economic development of the nation through the formulation of sound policies and a regulatory frame work to promote the use of appropriate environmentally friendly, scientific and technological practices and techniques hence the climate change policy framework to help Ghana cope with the effects of climate change and its emerging issues.
The Director who acknowledged the complexity of climate change urged the campaigners to break down terminologies involved to the understanding of ordinary person whose life is most affected by the changes for adaptation process.
The He observed that, the recurring floods in parts of the country had cost the country millions of cedis in reconstruction, repairs and relief items. The floods which she blamed on the indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste that choked the major water run-ways also cost Ghana millions of cedis to resettle flood displaced people in Accra.
The government of Ghana spent closed to 62 billion old Ghana cedis on floods relief victims in the northern sector, central and western regions for the past three years. Ghana has had her fair share of the harsh climate effects and could not wait to manage disasters anymore but takes proactive measurse to avoid them hence the national climate change policy framework.
The Director thanked Care international for supporting the country to draft a climate change policy document saying “climate change is a development issues and should be tackled devoid of politization” to help the country cope with natural and man-made disasters.
Professor, Chris Gordon, Dr. Adelina Mensah and Dr. Elaine T. Mensah from the university of Ghana, Legon are leading the validation process.
Some of the participants in an interview after the programme indicated that the effects of climate change on national economy too devastating to wait. They commended the government for taken steps to have a national climate change policy.
Therefore however urged the government to involve civil society organisations in the implementation of the policy framework for effective result. Over fifty civil society organisations across the country participated in the validation process. The government would also be meeting with chiefs, women’s and youth groups, and other stakeholders before the document is placed before parliament.

Friday, August 3, 2012

High Level Interaction on Climate Change and Plastic Waste Ends in Ghana

Minister Sherry Ayittey Addressing MMDCEs during the training workshop in Kumasi
The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology Ms. Sherry Ayittey has urged all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to make climate change resilient policy and sanitation cleanness the topmost priority in their development plans or programmes to spare the country from both natural and man-made disasters.
She observed that, the recurring floods in parts of the country had cost the country millions of cedis in reconstruction, repairs and relief items. The floods which she blamed on the indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste that choked the major water run-ways also cost Ghana millions of cedis to resettle flood displaced people in Accra and Northern Ghana.

“We need to go green to reduce the impact of climate change not only on livelihoods but on the national economy. We can not go forward if we continue to dispose plastic waste indiscriminately in the country”, she said.  The Minister said the only way to deal with plastic waste in the country was for people to  change their attitude to disposal of used plastics.

The minister said this when she addressed the District Chief Executives (DCEs), District Coordinating Directors (DCDs) and Planners during one of the series of a nationwide high level interaction on climate change and plastic waste in Ghana held in Kumasi.

The programme which sought to encourage the mainstream of climate change into development planning in Ghana was organised by two international organisation includes, Care International Ghana under the auspices of Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment Science and Teachnology (MEST), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Japan International Development Agency (JICA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The training programme was aimed to educate the government and public office holders on the need to mainstream climate resilient and sanitation cleanness into their development programmes at various levels. It was also to encourage physical and economic planning in the country that takes climate change and environmental and anitation cleanness into consideration.

The minister indicated the government of Ghana spent closed to amount of 62 billion old Ghana cedis on floods relief victims in the northern sector, central and western regions. This amount was said to be exclusive of various contributions made by the development partners and that Ghana has had her fair share of the harsh climate effects and could not wait to manage disasters anymore but takes proactive measurse to avoid them.

Ms. Ayittey commended Care International Ghana’s Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) for making impacts on the lives of rural dwellers in parts of northern and Upper East region.  ALP is implementating community based adaptation that includes education on climate variability and linking communities to agencies such as Ghana Meteorological Department (GMD), Ministry of Food and Agriculutre (MOFA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI).
These agencies provide necesary information to farmers to plan their crop production. The minister urged the MMDCEs to urged to put in place environmental sound policy to deal with plastic waste to ensure environmental sustainability.
Manager of ALP, Mr. Romanus Gyang
The Manger for Care International Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) Mr. Romanus Gyang explained that the effects of climate change on livelihoods were too devastating to leave it for the governments alone to deal with. He said that while CARE International was collaborating with the government through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) it was also implementing communities based adaptation at various communities and supporting them to diversify their livelihoods in relation to climate change and their vulnerability. Explaining the effects of climate on national economy, Mr. Gyang stated that if nothing is done immediately the devastating effects of climate change and climate variability on the national economy in the near future would be great to bear.
The Ashanti Regional Minister Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah said that climate change represents a key challenge to the development of the country. He said the effects of climate change will increase the financial burdens of governments and limit their ability to provide infrastructure. He said agriculture sector has already been affected by the effects of climate change and called for action to reduce its effects on the people. This was contained a speech read on his behalf during the training workshop on climate change in Kumasi.

The president of the National Association of Local Government Authority (NALAC) Mr. Ebenezer Akuoko Frimpong pledged on behalf of the MMDCEs in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo region to mainstream climate change into local development programme. He observed that extreme climate variability in Ghana may grind development into a halt if nothing is done about it.

He cited rises in temperatures, low crop yield, flood and erractic rains and long droughts as some of the frightening signs of effects of climate change in Ghana.  He appealed to his colleague leaders of Local government authority to take climate change issues very serious to reduce its negative impact on livelihoods and development.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Climate Change: Failed Crops put Fears in Farmers

Picture: Millet farm performing poorly at Farfar                                                              Credit: Npong Francis

Farmers in Fafar, a farming community in the Garu-Tampane District of the Upper East Region have predicted food shortages, severe hunger and starvation in the near future if nothing is done to improve on the current traditional farming and cropping system.

According to the farmers, the traditional crops are failing them because of inconsistent rainfall and high temperatures and that something urgent ought to be done about crop failures to protect the livelihoods of the farmers to cope with the forseeable severity of the food situation. 

They however, called on the ministry for Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to support farmers with short duration or maturing, drought and heat tolerant crops and new technologies particularly irrigation system to support food production.

The farmers including women also complained about the none availability of farm inputs and that alternative fertilizer should be developed because chemical fertilizer which cost has made them more dependable instead of self suffcient should be replaced with cheap and effective ferlizer. The women in particularly indicated that the cost of the quantity of fertilizer they needed to produce an acre of maize today is more than what they were applying previous on the same piece of farmland and that ought to be looked by the goverment.    

They intimated that failure by the government to do something quick such as introducing drought tolerant variaty crops and short duratioon maturing crops would plounge the nation under food insufficient.

These farmers were contributing to discussions on food security, livelihoods development, agriculture and climate change adaptation at a community engagement meeting held at Farfar Community in the Garu Tempane District of the UER.
The programme which was organised by the Presbyterian Agriculture Station Garu (PAS-G) under the Care International Ghana’s Adaptation Learning Programme was to solicit information from the community on their livelihoods activities.

The assembly member for Farfar Electoral Area, Mr. Joseph Duut Yennukua thanked Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) and Presbytarian Agricultural Station in Garu for bringing officers from various decentralized government agencies into the community. He pointed out that whose farming and livelihoods situations were deteriorating need urgent attention and support but it was difficult for them to acces such supports to improve on their lots.

He also called the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Kwesi Ahwoi to as a matter of urgency supply them with short duration improved crop variaties and extension officers to support their farming activities. The Upper East Regional Director of the Savanna Agriculture Research Station (SARI), Dr. Roger Kanton promised to supply the community with short duration (Abontem) and high quality protein maize variaties to improve on the crop production.

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer of CARE International Ghana, Mr. Thomas Ayamga explained that, the community engagement fora are initiatives by Adaptation Learning Programme to make social services available to community members to improve not only on livelihoods, but also help deepen governance, promote participatory democracy, bridge the relationship gap between the comunities and duty bearers and bring governance to the doorsteps of the communities.

He stated that, the fora were to support community to identify gaps and design their development action plans and strategies to enable benefit from currently ongoing programmes being implemented by the government and non government agencies.
Picture: farmer lamenting failure of crops during a community engagement forum at Farfar, Garu-Tampane District, Ghana.
The fora, which were held in eight communities including Zambulugu, Jawani, Demia &Saamini, Tariganga, Akara, Farfar and Kugri in the Northern and Upper East regions respectively also  sought to educate farmers on adaptation and mitigation measures against the effects of climate change and climate variabilities.

It engaged decentralized departments such as the district assemblies (DAs), Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana Education Service (GES), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and National Disaster Management Organisations (NADMO) and Meteological Agency (GMA) were to enable them respond to the communties felt needs such as the basic infrastructure including roads, water, health posts, schools and agricultural extention services among other public services to support the people prepare adequately for climate change adaptation, explained the Local Governance and Advocacy officer for Care International Ghana, Francis Babongte Avura.

Mr. Avura stated that, the process was not only to deepen participatory democracy and bridge the relationship gap between the decentralized offices and educate the communities on the available opportunities to be sourced to improve on their lots but was also to gather testimonies from communities the changes that took place and impacted negatively on their economic and social lives.

The programme Manager for Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), Mr Romanus Gyang who also participated keenly in the processes told the Enquirer in an interview that ALP was a community driven and life changing programme and that the programme was supporting vulnerable communities to adapt to the effects of climate change and climate variabilities for sustainable livelihoods.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Section of CSOs member reviewing ALP
The Civil Sociaety Organisations (CSOs) have commended the government for constituting climate change department within the ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to handle climate change related isssues and prompting the parliament to constitute parliamentary select committee on climate change to be responsible for reviewing, recommending and initiating climate change resilient policies and programmes.
They also commended Care International for taken lead role in championing climate change issues in Africa.
The constitution of a parliamentraty select committee and special department on climate change would further the ducation and formulation of climate change resilient policies and programmes to help the poor and vulnerable communities adapt to theeffects of climate change and climate variabilities.
The civil society organisations commended the government during a two-day climate change adaptation learning programme (ALP) review meeting organised by Care International Ghana held in Tamale.
The meeting which brought togather civil sociatyorganisations working in environment, food security, water and sanitaion, community development and capacity building organisations across the country reviewed climate change adaptation learning programme being implemented by Care International Ghana through partner organisations, assessed climate change situation and it impacts on livelihoods.
They also reviewed and evaluated food and water situation, and how far agriculture sector fared for the past five years and climate change variabilities impact on livelihoods on the poor.
Members of the CSOs point out that a step by the government to constitute parliamentary select committee to champion climate change issues in Ghana was an indication that the nation’s leadership had recognized the need for comprehensive policy and programme on climate change to reduce impacts on livelihoods.
The coordinator for Youth Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), Mr. Lovans Owusu-Takyi who also commended the government for the move said the climate change was a threat to sustainable livelihood and development and needed attention.
He said that the effects of climate change were greater and disasterous and that any action by the government to deal with the issue should not be politicise.
Addressing participants, the manager of Care Adaptation Learning Programme for Africa, (ALP), Mr. Romanus Gyan explained that ALP is a life changing programme that seeks to build the capacities of vulnerable communities and households to adapt to the effects of climate change and climate variability.
He said that the programme was using what he called “community based adaptation approaches” which centered on four key elements including promoting climat resilient livelihoods strategies, building capacities of local NGOs and local public institutions, disaster risk reduction strategies and addressing underlying causes of vulnerability through social mobilization for empowerment and advocacy to influence quick policies implementations and intervetions. The Manger told the Enquirer in an interveiw that climate change does not only needs cash but governmental and individual and corporate institutional actions. He said “Coping with effects of climat change will demand support and willingness and result oriented adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of climate chnage on people’s livelihoods”.
He said that, it is against this background that, CARE International Ghana has introduced the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) in northern and Upper East Regions of Ghana to support rural but poor and vulnerable women to cope with the effects of climate change and climate variability.
The Adaptation Learning programme, which is currently running in five communities in these regions, also seeks to empower women in micro financing activities to reduce their vulnerabilities and expand economic viable ventures within these areas to support people’s livelihoods improvement.
The programme manager said that, ALP is expected to cover about ninety rural communities in the two regions of Ghana targeting about 5,400 poor rural women to help transformed rural economies to better the livelihoods of rural dwellers and at the same time cushion them against the effects of global warming.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Government presents Climate Change Policy framwork to Ghanaian

The Ghana Government through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), has developed a policy framework on climate change.

To facilitate the polishing of the framework, the ministry held a stakeholders, consultative meeting that brought together diplomatic corps, security agencies, women groups and the academia, to discuss the draft policy to help the country cope with Climate Change.

The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Sherry Ayittey, stated that since the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, stakeholders have worked in a concerted manner to come out with a common national vision and guidelines that will guide the country in dealing with the issue of Climate Change, which threatens lives, the existence and economic progress.

"We aspire to ensure systematic integration of climate change into national development processes for sustainable development, we want our sectors to develop efficient reporting, communication and awareness programmes and we want to provide a national voice for Ghanaians to contribute to the climate change debate both at home and abroad," she said.

The Minister said the draft National Climate Change Policy hinged on seven main themes including, Governance and Co-ordination; Capacity Building; Research and Knowledge Management; Finance; International Co-operation; Communication; Monitoring and Reporting.

Ms. Ayittey said the signs of Climate Change are obvious to even the less discerning members of society today and the scenarios are set to manifest even more forcefully in the coming years.

"We are in November and we all expected to feel some dry air or see signs of harmattan but we are experiencing intermittent rains," she explained, and added, climate change could undermine all the investments Ghana has made over the past years to reach a middle income status.

The Minister, therefore, commended the National Climate Change Committee for working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to integrate climate concerns into the 2011 budget.

"Today is an opportunity for all of us to comment on, contribute to, express opinions and views, review portions of the text and if need be generally enrich it," she encouraged, announcing that the Ministry intends to subject the policy framework to international discussions as well.

Professor Chris Gordon, Head of the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana, said Ghana's economy is tied to climatic changes since many people, especially in the rural areas, depended on the environment for their livelihood.

He noted that Ghana's response to Climate Change mattered to the rest of the world and explained that the policy framework aimed at building a climate resilient society, adding, "We need to make sure that our development is climate compatible."

Prof. Gordon urged government to embark on outreach programmes to the grassroots to enable them to understand and possibly adjust their lifestyles.

Nana Kobina Nketiah V, Chief of Essikado Traditional Area, who chaired the forum, emphasised that Climate Change is a challenge to the very existence as human beings.

"Climate change will have an impact on all of us and we should all be part of the solution," he said.

Is Broadcasting Groundnuts on Farmland Right?

Farmers now broadcast groundnuts – how productive is it? 

A look at the agronomic and socio-economic implications

In order to achieve optimum yield for every crop, there is a recommended plant population. It is easy to get the appropriate plant population by planting the crop in rows.
Groundnut is a very important cash crop in all farming families in areas where the crop has a potential thereby increasing household income and food security.

However, farmers in their attempt to cultivate this important crop have resorted to a practice which requires serious considerations to ascertain its productivity. Thus, an agronomic and socio-economic study was conducted into the practice in selected communities in Karaga and Yendi districts where the crop is cultivated.

Findings from study

Results show that both the haphazard planting and the broadcasting methods had significantly lower yield than the dibbling at recommended spacing (60 x 5 cm ) on flat ground and in rows, even though the same quantity of seed was used. For one thing, this is probably because there was no even spread of the seeds to efficiently utilize both the above and below soil resources Secondly, crowding at some spots while other spots were sparse allowed weed growth, and weed control was difficult and time consuming. These factors result in low yields compared to the dibbling.

In all the districts the dibbling yielded higher than the broadcasting. However, in some districts this may partly be due to enhanced rainfall.

Disadvantages of broadcasting.

      Difficult to achieve the right plant population.
      Refilling is difficult if there is drought and germination is bad
      Cultural practices in terms of weeding, fertilizer application, harvesting etc are also difficult to perform.

Even though it is early to conclude using one year data, dibbling at the recommended spacing will always give higher yields no matter the precision at which the broadcasting is carried out!
Can our media friends help us inform the general public, especially our local farmers on the need to do dibbling instead of broadcasting?

A Paper released by Ghana Communities Development Association (GDCA