The National Initiatives for Sustainable Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS) programme has helped to reclaim some degraded mine sites in the Central Region through the planting of oil palm.
The initiative became necessary due to the operations of illegal small-scale miners whose activities destroy arable lands and pose threat to the livelihoods of farmers in that part of the country, as well as food security challenges to communities.
The intervention formed part of Solidaridad’s agenda to reclaim sustainability for the millions of smallholder farmers experiencing poverty, inequality and struggling with the impact of climate change.
Speaking at the annual review meeting of the programme in Accra, Madam Rosemary Addico, the Programme Manager for NISCOPS, said the reclamation activity reiterated the programme’s key objective of empowering vulnerable communities with knowledge and skills to enhance production systems.
“The reclamation activity reiterates NISCOPS key objective of empowering vulnerable communities with knowledge and skills to enhance production systems to increase profits for workers in the oil palm value chain while protecting the environment, as well as joining efforts at mitigating the impact of climate change,” she said.
She said Solidaridad was facilitating access to climate-resilient oil palm seedlings, processing equipment and soil analysis tests in communities where the reclamation activities would be carried out.
The meeting, organised by Solidaridad to evaluate the 2020 implementation activities in the seven beneficiary districts, brought together the programme’s National Advisory Committee members and representatives from the district Agriculture offices.
Mr Eric Twum, the District Agriculture Director for Upper Denkyira West District, was optimistic the intervention would put the land back to productive uses.
“Mining continues to compete with other land use activities in our communities. It is, therefore, crucial for sustainable land reclamation initiatives to be implemented to equip mining communities with skills to improve their economic activities. This will also ensure that these areas do not become ghost towns at the cessation of mining activities,” Mr Twum added.
He pledged to include climate-smart interventions in the assembly’s mid-term development plan and to secure a budgetary allocation for the implementation of such initiatives.
“Oil palm is resilient, and one of the most suitable crops for reclamation of degraded mined lands. Its cultivation will not only help restore these lands and reduce climate change impact caused by illegal mining, but also expand the livelihood opportunities for beneficiary communities,” Mr Twum noted.
The National Advisory Committee commended Solidaridad for the feat achieved with farmer profiling and training of agricultural extension agents on best management practices.
The committee urged Solidaridad to consider exploring digital tools like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to disseminate information as part of capacity building efforts of the NISCOPS programme.
The National Initiatives for Sustainable Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders is a four-year programme funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs designed to implement climate-smart initiatives in the oil palm sector in Ghana, Nigeria, Indonesia and Malaysia.
In Ghana, the programme, implemented in 28 communities, seeks to contribute to the Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since October 2020, the programme has profiled 6,634 farmers and 775 processors, and trained 165 Agric Extension agents in best management practices.
These extension agents have in turn trained 1,455 farmers in their respective districts. With training in other communities still ongoing, it is expected that over 12,500 oil palm smallholder farmers and 6 00 oil palm processors will benefit from the training by December 2021.