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Many smallholder farmers rely on wetlands
News Date: 4th February 2014

One hundred and five farmers owe their livelihood to the country's six Ramsar sites (wetlands) of Ghana.

The nation's ramsar sites namely; Sakumo Lagoon, Densu Delta, Owabi, Anlo –Keta Lagoon, Muni Lagoon and Songor, also support 1050 cattle, 230 sheep and goats with crops cultivated on a total of 243 acres of farm lands.

This was made known by Mr Richard Agorkpa, Executive Director, Friends of Ramsar Sites (FORS), at the 2014 World Wetlands Day celebration at the weekend.

He said FORS partnered Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, US Embassy, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Wildlife Society, Lincoln International School, and the Tema Coalition of NGOs to plan and celebrate the day.

Mr Agorkpa expressed appreciation for linking this year's celebration to agriculture on the theme; "Wetlands and Agriculture" because the Ramsar concept did not protect wetlands and water resources alone but encouraged sustainable use of its resources.

Mr Fernando Salinas, Senior Forestry Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa, said Ghana was endowed with wetlands which constituted an important natural resource base for the provision of various goods and services.

He said FAO was happy to collaborate with the Government of Ghana, (GOG) and all stakeholders to ensure the potential of Ghana's inland wetlands was fully developed taking into account their economic, social and environmental importance.

He said a study in 2012 revealed that Ghana was one of the five countries where FAO and other partners undertook extensive mapping and assessment of the potential of investment in agriculture and water management through the Agriculture Water Solutions projects.

Mr Salinas said the study adopted an approach combining biophysical criteria with livelihood-based demands identifying inland valleys including wetlands suitable for rice production using the Global Agro-ecological zones index of land suitability for wetland rice.

He said FAO had developed a methodology to guide their development without compromising their ecological value adding they were developed in strong collaboration with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Nii Alabi Gbene II, Sakumono Mantse, said he remained committed to providing the necessary support to attract the necessary investments to the sustainable use of the Sakumono Ramsar Site which is located at the West of Tema, covering an area of 1364 hectares.

He appealed to farmers and fishermen to protect the functional integrity of the site and settlers around the site not to dump garbage into the wetlands as that would destroy aquatic life and its natural beauty.

Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention. Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.

The Ramsar Convention is an international agreement signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, which provides for the conservation and good use of wetlands. Ghana signed the convention in 1988.

Source: GNA

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