A GNA feature By Samuel Adadi Akapule

Farmers in Upper East Region, have acclaimed the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) technology for helping to improve their yield.

FORESTRY RESEARCH INSTITUTE AND FARMERS.jpg16381According to Mr Samuel Batan, Secretary of the FMNR of Yameriga many people are now going into animal rearing and this is leading to the improvement of the wellbeing of families particularly children than before.

?Our crop yields have increased tremendously than before due to the adoption of the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) technology. Look, now our animals are also fatter than before and we are able to get good sales from them than before due to the availability of fodder for them to feed on,? he said

Mr Batin made this known to the 12- member team from East Africa who heard of the good results of the FMNR and visited the World Vision Ghana (WVG) Talensi Area Development Programme to learn about the technology.
The team also visited Tongo-Beo, Yindure, and Wakii.
Mrs Atikolgma Asaadog, a 40-year old woman beneficiary of the project said: ?Before the intervention of the FMNR we used to travel very far distances into the bush to pick Shea nuts for Sheabutter processing.?

?We spent a lot of time and energy, but now as a result of the FMNR we are able to pick Sheanuts, which are very closer to us. Many of us now are able to go into large scale of Sheabutter processing and this has empowered us to take good care of our children by paying for their school fees, buying educational materials for them as well as paying for their National Health Insurance Scheme.?

The FMNR is also addressing the issue of food security and climate change, which is becoming a major challenge to most African countries of which Ghana is not exceptional.

In Ghana research had shown that the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions are the most affected when it comes to the challenges of food security and climate challenges.
Also when it comes to the issue of food security and climate change, women and children are the most vulnerable.

The WVG, an NGO introduced the project in Talensi District with the focus on the wellbeing of children and women.

Based on the success story, WVG had extended the concept to all its operational areas in the Bawku West, the Garu-Tempane, and Kassena-Nankana West Districts in the Region.

The concept has also been tested and proved good results in neighbouring Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

The Talensi project has now become the centre of excellence for the learning of the FMNR.

The Background of FMNR Concept
The basic method of the FMNR is that the farmer selects the stumps or shrubs he or she would utilise, and decides how many stems would be allowed to grow on each stump, based on needs and ultimate purpose for reforestation.
Excess stems are cut, and side branches pruned off up to half way the trunk. A good farmer would return two to six months for touch-up pruning, and thereby stimulate faster growth rates and produce straighter stems.
There is no set system or hard and fast rules for the FMNR. Farmers are given guidelines, but are free to choose the number of stumps per hectare and stems per stump to leave, and the time span between subsequent pruning and harvest of stems and the method of pruning.
Literature available indicates that countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Chad, which experienced desertification some years back, adopted the practice of the FMNR concept, which saved the situation and improved upon the living standards of the people.
Before the Intervention of the Concept in Talensi District

Speaking to the GNA about the genesis of the FMNR in the District, the Talensi Area Development Programmes Manager (ADP) of WVG, Mr Frederick Amoabeng said the decision to empower the people particularly farmers to adopt the concept was informed by the high incidence of food insecurity and climate change challenges.
?At that period in question crop yields had declined along with soil fertility, lack of fodder for animals particularly cattle, sheep and goats in the dry seasons as the area is completely burnt, wind speeds had increased, wildlife and bush land had disappeared, climatic conditions had become more severe and bushfires were common dry season occurrence and most people thought nothing could be done to reverse the situation.

?This prompted WVG to begin the implementation of the project in the Talensi District in 2009 with technical support from Tony Ranao an expert in FMNR and the Forestry Division,? he recounted.
Impact of the Project Implementation
The ADP Manager indicated after building the capacity of the farmers on the technology, they adopted it, which led to the enormous benefits including the reclaiming of degraded land, increase of soil fertility leading to food security and the improvement of climate change conditions.
He said although the project was in the second phase, a lot of significant impact had been made, especially in the area of the improvement of the wellbeing of children and women which, he noted , was a cardinal principle of WVG.
?FMNR practices have generated more wild fruits and food for consumption. Children are now able to access fruits to eat on the way to and from school from FMNR fields. Children are well nourished. Contented stomach is certainly better for concentration in class. More boys who were used as shepherds and made to stay away from school due to lack of fodder are mow in school.

?More boys are in school now due to the availability fodder. Crop yields have increased due to the increase of the soil fertility as a result of the droppings of the residues of the FMNR. Farmers now get fatter animals than before due to the availability of fodder resulting in higher market prizes,? he said.
He said the recovered forest areas give a better access to herbal medicines, in terms of availability and shorter proximity, while the FMNR re-growth trees , protect fields and houses and schools from severe wind storms as well as provide better shade, beauty and comfort of the community?s surroundings.
It also provides fuel wood, indigenous roofing materials , the return and retention of endangered species as well as promote social cohesion since the project creates avenues for people to work together to achieve a common goal.
Strategies for Successful Implementation of the Project
The Manager of WVG in charge of the FMNR , Mr Samuel Abasiba said the Village Saving and Loans Associations, bee keeping , goats and rabbits rearing , acacia and maize farming were some of the alternative livelihoods measures that took away people from engaging in the destruction of the ecology.
The capacity building, the training community fire volunteers and the commitment from the chiefs , opinion leaders and assembly members, district assembly, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) , National Fire Service and National District Management Organisation among others also contributed to the success story,
Conclusion
There is the need for the Government and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority, MOFA, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology , traditional authorities and others to partner with WVG to see how the technology could be implemented in the remaining parts of the country to help improve upon food security and climate change .
Notwithstanding the fact that bush fires in some of the communities remain a major challenge to the FMNR, there is the urgent need to extend its implementation to the rest of the country where it is not practiced, particularly in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to help address the issue of food security and climate change.

GNA

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