My name is Portia Agbo, aged 20 years. I have completed my tertiary education majoring in Agricultural Science. I am an agricultural entrepreneur.
I come from Akpafu Mempeasem, an ethnic rural community located in the Volta Region towards the Eastern part of Ghana in the West Africa sub region. The community can be found in the Hohoe capital district, and it is inhabited mainly by ethnic Ewes and Guans.
The District covers an area of 1, 172 sq. km. in the middle belt of the Volta region. Great eco-tourism sites are the hallmark of this District. Notable among these are lofty mountains blending with low grasslands, heart throbbing natural scenery of spectacular waterfalls, and ancient caves.
Akpafu in the Hohoe District can boast of the highest peak in Ghana, Mt. Afadjato, the highest waterfall in West Africa, Wli Waterfalls, and the sacred and rare species of Mona monkeys.
Relevant Social and Economic Data in Context
Poverty, poor land conditions due to mismanagement and overproduction, child labor and geographic variables all place Akpafu villagers in a vulnerable socioeconomic category, especially after the abandonment of the old coffee farms. The villagers are peasant farmers whose main produce is maize, rice, cassava, yams, plantains, coconuts, and palm, as well as some cash crops like cocoa and coffee.
Most of this produce is currently sold in a cheap, unprocessed form. My project will benefit the entire community by providing knowledge of agroforestry practices through community workshops/seminars, increased market activity, higher and more diverse agricultural production, and the income generated and spent by members within the community itself. I plan to conduct my activities both regionally and at the district level.
My project is developing a sustainable improved variety cocoa plantation called The Nursing Future Forests Initiative. It is a program to empower rural indigenous young farmers and the jobless youth who have no formal education and skills by engaging in new improved variety cocoa cultivation.
This project gives them the opportunity to be self-reliant through cocoa production and marketing and to generate local income to reduce poverty and improve the living condition of youth in Akpafu traditional ethnic villages and communities.
Put simply, the problems that my project intends to address are food insecurity, environmental degradation and economic depression. Underneath these parameters, innumerable other problems can be articulated.
Environmental degradation includes issues varying from the destruction of fertile soils to climate change. Economic depression includes issues ranging from poverty to trying to add economic attractiveness to the Akpafu traditional area.
Because of harmful agricultural practices, much of the land surrounding Akpafu has become deforested. Agricultural practices such as slash-and-burn agriculture, monocropping, hunting with fire, using fire to extract palm liquors and illegal logging have done immeasurable damage to the natural ecosystems of this tropical area. Think of that when you think hunters using deer blinds is unfair to the animals.
The problems associated with inappropriate agricultural methods, coupled with the grim dangers of deforestation, can be confronted with the establishment of such a project. This is what motivated me to do this project, especially when I noticed that the land surrounding Akpafu has become less productive due to rapacious agricultural methods that deplete the soil of necessary nutrients.
The community has become aware of the consequences of deforestation as it relates to climate change and lower levels of precipitation in our tropical sub region. Agroforestry methods of farming have to be introduced to the community.
An agroforestry system of agriculture supported by a fully functioning tree nursery has become the preferred means of addressing the problems associated with deforestation, lack of food security, and changing weather patterns. By receiving economic support, community members can implement the project benefit from it.
As a young woman agricultural entrepreneur, my long-term vision for Akpafu is one of a land dense with a wide variety of trees, farms incorporating agroforestry systems of agriculture, sound food security, biodiversity and a healthy economy that can provide for its members.
There are short-term environmental and economic benefits that will be generated by the project, myself and the community. Some of the environmental benefits include increased soil fertility (because of more diverse crops) and a decrease in illegal logging because of the cultivation of fast-growing hardwood trees.
Some of the short-term economic benefits include more provisions for foraging animals and bees (leaves for goats and sheep, nectar for bees), tree products such as charcoal and wood, and income generated from the sales of seedlings to interested farmers. Some of the short-term environmental and economic benefits are interrelated. For example, increased soil fertility promotes better production from farmland.
As a young woman in an agricultural business, my project has five overarching objectives. My aim is to reverse environmental degradation by promoting sustainable agricultural practices, build an agro-nursery and support cocoa production, agroforestry, organic farming, food security, biodiversity conservation and reduction in use of chemical and inorganic fertilizers by rural farmers.
1) To establish a Cocoa nursery and rehabilitation program, supported by a water source by means of a water pump and two water tanks.
2) To establish a model improved-variety cocoa farm where agroforestry methods such as alley cropping, live fencing, and woodlots will be demonstrated in the community.
3) Arrange for the marketing of the improved cocoa nursery seedlings by advertising and promoting my improved cocoa nursery and other seedlings.
4) Educate the community, and especially young women farmers, about agroforestry practices through organized workshops and seminars.
5) I also want to strengthen young women and girls to work together to resolve food insecurity and address other community development problems.
With the help of my 5 community sisters, field trials have taken place on a tentative basis during the last 5 months and successfully completed. Now, about 40 additional farmers have expressed interest and were proposing to join in the validation of improved variety cocoa cultivation and agroforestry practices/methodologies in Akpafu alone.
Within one year of implementation my project will show measurable success in economic, environmental, and socio-economic benefits.
Economically, the incorporation of tree crops into local agricultural systems with cocoa production will increase both the productivity of the land and productivity of the community and its associated markets.
Environmentally, the incorporation of tree crops into local agricultural systems will ease climate change, alleviate the negative influences of inappropriate agricultural methods on the nutritional properties of the soil, increase biodiversity and bring cooler temperatures to the area.
Cocoa is said to be an indicator of good environmental health, and cocoa is a shade-grown agroforestry crop. In agroforestry systems, cocoa trees have flourished in parts of Ghana where these methods have been experimented with.
I hope to bring the same indicators and benefits to Akpafu. Socio-economically, the incorporation of tree crops into local agricultural systems will create stronger households and ease problems associated with poverty.
The success of the project will also bring about positive changes to the all 13 rural communities of Akpafu and improve its socio-economic position in the Hohoe District.
Equipment (water pump/irrigation equipment) $400
Supplies and materials (improved variety cocoa seeds) $1,000
PVC Pipes $500
Installation costs $100
Poly bags $200
Fencing with iron mesh $1,000
Farm/Nursery tools $500
Water storage tank $800
Requested from YAP Program: $5,000
The project timeframe is between June, 2016 to May, 2017.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Portia Agbo (Akpafu, Ghana) – adhaphofou[at]yahoo.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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