Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ghana launches Agric Sustainable Land Management Strategy

Land degradation, exacerbated by traditional farming systems, is estimated to be cost the nation around two per cent of the Gross Domestic Product annually, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, said on Wednesday.He said currently the productivity of most agricultural lands in Ghana were below average and there were indications that the situation would continue to deteriorate due to increasing land degradation including soil fertility decline and erosion.Speaking at the launch of the Agricultural Sustainable Land Management Strategy (SLM) and Action Plan to be implemented within the period of 2009 and 2010, Mr Ahwoi said whilst land degradation in Ghana could be due to the fragility of sub-Saharan ecosystems, the situation was exacerbated by the traditional extensive farming systems, including slash and burn."The situation is further compounded by increasing pressures from other land users and traditional land tenure systems that do not invest in land improvement by farmers." he added.Mr Ahwoi said sustainable management of land should be an option in order to arrest the degradation in view of climate change. The document is a component of the Ghana Strategic Investment Framework for SLM being developed by the National SLM Committee under the co-ordination of the Environmental Protection Agency with the support of the World Bank and other development partners. Mr Ahwoi said as the first major step at developing a framework for promoting improved land management practices within the sector, the document might not be able to address all the issues that were associated with.He however expressed the belief that it was a good beginning and needed the support of all stakeholders for its successful implementation.He said to achieve the multiple benefits that agriculture could provide, required the strengthening of its foundation - land resources. Mr Ahwoi said even in the face of the discovery of oil in commercial quantities, Ghana would continue to depend for a long time on agriculture for its socio-economic development and there was therefore the need for all stakeholders to ensure its sustainability. He therefore reminded directors of the ministry that SLM was an input into achieving most of the objectives of the second Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II), especially food security and commodities developed for export and urged them to mainstream it into their work plans and budget."SLM is cross-sectional in nature therefore requires effective collaboration of all stakeholders to achieve the lasting result." Mr Ahwoi said President John Evans Atta Mills and his team had a good appreciation of the conditions under which most farmers were living and were committed to support any action aimed at improving their lot."The government believes in the urgent need for increasing productivity of our small-scale farmers and the only way to achieve that is through the use of appropriate land improvement technologies. "That is why we continue to support the fertilizer subsidy programme started by our predecessors. In the same way, we will support all efforts at addressing degradation of our agricultural land in order to sustain the livelihood of our hard working farmers."

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