The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), an NGO, is advocating for the inclusion of agroecology in the successor policy of the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Programme (FASDEP III) as part of measures to promote agroecology in Ghana.
The Centre believed promoting agroecology would not only ensure sustainable agriculture among smallholder farmers but would also help reduce the rate of climate change currently experienced in the country.
Addressing participants at a national policy workshop on agroecology in Jirapa on Thursday, Mr Benard Y. Guri, the Executive Director for CIKOD, noted that CIKOD had been collaborating with other organisations, both nationally and internationally, to promote agroecology.
Stakeholders from the agricultural sector including the academia, the state and private sector attended the two-day workshop on the theme: “Agroecology in the Current State of Climate Change and COVID-19: Challenges, Prospects and Policy Implications”.
Mr Guri said for the agroecology advocacy to be successful, they needed to get the concept into policy documents hence the need for the workshop to discuss effective ways to influence policy decisions including FASDEP III, in favour of agroecology in Ghana.
“The whole concept of agroecology, if it is not reflected in the policy, it won’t work. We will only be doing many things on the ground, but if we are to upscale to the national level, then it needs to picture in our policy,” he said.
Agroecology involved a circular system of farming that built on the strength and capacity of the soil with the use of bio-products such as compost and bio-pesticides rather than pesticides and chemical fertilizer, which destroyed the land.
Mr Guri explained that agroecology had been practiced by farmers over the years and needed to be promoted among smallholder farmers who formed about 70 per cent of the agriculture labour force.
He said conventional farming was destructive as it involved clearing tress on the field and excessive use of chemicals, which contributed to climate change and its effects.
“If we are coming up with a national policy it should reflect agroecology, go in the direction of agroecology, promote agroecology rather than industrial agriculture because if you look at the policy as it is now, it is all about industrial agriculture,” Mr Guri stated.
He observed that it was possible to produce food using agroecology where farmers were able to produce without cutting down the trees and without using the chemicals, “and that is what our policy direction should be looking at”.
Dr Sylvester Ayambila, a Consultant to the FASDEP III, noted that the new policy was in line with international policies such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy which sought to promote sustainable agriculture.
Sharing highlights of the FASDEP III, he explained that FASDEP II, which was introduced in 2008 would end this year, hence the need for the government to introduce a new policy that built on the FASDEP II.
He noted that the FASDEP III sought to promote climate resilience and sustainable agriculture which would incorporate agroecology, but that policy implementation in Ghana was a challenge and that could affect the implementation of the FASDEP III.
Dr Ayambila, also a Senior Lecturer at UDS, Tamale, said in order to effectively implement the FASDEP, there was the need for stakeholders in the country to dictate to investors in the agricultural sector to implement programmes and projects in accordance with the policy.
Other presentations focused on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, the state of agroecology in Ghana and Eco-Agriculture in the Sahel Evaluation Report among others.