Fire-free for a good harvest
Natural fertilisers instead of slash-and-burn: farmers in northern Ghana adopt agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly.
Many farmers use slash-and-burn practices to prepare their fields for the new season. Although such fires release fertilising nutrients, the inefficient technique damages the climate and environment. One possible solution is conservation agriculture, which focuses on crop rotation. In other words, the crops are changed each season. This means that nutrients are more effectively regulated in the soil, while the need to plough the field with heavy equipment is also eliminated. Crop residues are deliberately left as biomass, and the new seeds are sown in a crack in the ground. This has the advantage, for example, that earthworms can loosen the soil.
Saiba Selima from Ghana is an advocate of conservation agriculture. The farmer used to tend her fields with fire and a plough. Then she participated in a training course provided by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. ‘I learned there how to grow crops in a suitable sequence and that I can sow various plants at the same time.’ Now, the young farmer not only has enough cereals and vegetables to provide for her family – she even has some left over, which she can sell on the local market.
On behalf of the German Development Ministry (BMZ) and the European Union (EU), GIZ has instructed nearly 2,000 farmers in conservation agriculture. On top of this, 40 agricultural advisors have been trained and can now pass on their knowledge to other farmers.
Planning harvests together
Comprehensively protecting the climate and environment in agriculture requires great foresight. One strategy used by GIZ is collaborative agricultural planning, which entails communities deciding together which crops to plant and in what quantity. This enables them to respond to local conditions – such as different weather patterns as a result of climate change. At the next administrative level up, planning takes place for the entire region. Godfred K. Bamba, who works as a planner in the municipal administration, sees this as a clear advantage: ‘We end up with a plan of action for the community that the community has developed, and promotes, itself.’