Traditional rulers in the Upper East and the Northern Regions have appealed to the government and its development partners to consider up-scaling the Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP) to boost food security and livelihoods.
They made the call on Friday, when the Minister of Environment, Science and Innovation (MESTI) , Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, paid a three-day separate working visits to the project areas of the SLWMP to inspect progress of the project.
The project, which is being funded by the World Bank through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Grant of 29.67 million dollars, will be implemented jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Wildlife Division of the Commission
According to the chiefs, the project interventions including composting, stone bonding, bamboo cultivation, beekeeping, rangelands (fodder fields), the establishment of sheanut processing centres among others, had contributed significantly to food security and the improvement of livelihoods.
They indicated that the project which is being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Wildlife Division of the commission and facilitated by MESTI, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in 12 districts in the Upper East and Northern regions was also contributing to the conservation of biodiversity.
The chief of Gbedembilisi in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region, Nab Nab Atirekpere Amayugsia Ignatius III , stated that the establishment of the sheabutter processing centres had also helped curb the spate of rural urban migration of the youth particularly the girl-child in the area.
The chief of Komsasi community of the Mamprugu Moaduri district in the Northern Region, Nab Zakari Iddrisu, stated that the traditional council was so happy about the way and manner the incident of bushfires had reduced drastically in the area and attributed that to the beekeeping component of the project.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for the Builsa South, Mr. Daniel Gariba indicated that the spate of rural urban migration particularly among the girl-child had reduced drastically and also attributed the success story to the project.
The Regional Director of the EPA , Mr Asher Nkegbe , explained that the 10-year project which began in 2011 is aimed at sensitising farmers in the northern ecological zones on the sustainable land and water management practices to restore soil fertility, prevent erosion, restoring soil moisture and prevention of bushfire.
He said the project which started in 2011 and ended in 2015 was further extended to 2018 and had benefited 27,000 farmers from the above mentioned regions exceeding the project target of 20,000.
The sector minister expressed satisfaction about the progress made by the project and assured the chiefs and people that the government would lobby the development partners to extend the project period to reach other remaining communities.
He expressed appreciation that the project had empowered many of the women in the project areas to support their husbands to cater for families especially in the areas of paying for their National Health Insurance Scheme and their tertiary education.
Professor Frimpong Boateng, inspecting one of the equipments of the sheanut processing centre