Yam farmers in West Africa often fail to get good yields, with one major cause being disease in their crop. Unfortunately, diseases can be passed from one generation of the crop to the next, through the planting material. In response, farmers and scientists have been experimenting with a new technique to produce seed yam for planting, which has the advantages of producing more seed yams which are also free of diseases. Beatrice Aighewi and Danny Coyne, two researchers who have been working with yam farmers in Nigeria, discuss how the technique works and the benefits it offers.
published: February 2013
Continuous cropping from year to year combined with low rates of fertiliser usage have led to exhausted, infertile soils in many parts of Africa, and low crop yields for farmers. In recent years, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa has supported a programme to introduce integrated soil fertility management, which combines use of chemical fertilisers and organic manure to address the problem. One strategy is the use of legumes, such as cowpea, intercropped with cassava. The two crops are grown in parallel strips, with farmers able to grow two or three cowpea crops before the cassava is ready for harvesting. Once the cassava harvest is complete, the two crops are rotated, allowing the next cassava crop to benefit from the improved soil fertility provided by the cowpea crop residues.
published: September 2012
At the Dompoase landfill site, a renewable energy project is processing human toilet waste into biodiesel and solid fuel pellets. The biodiesel can be used to power engines and generators, while the fuel pellets can be burned in industrial kilns and boilers, as well as solid fuel power plants for electricity generation. A second income generating project is using organic waste to make compost, a valuable resource for crop farmers. Both these projects, as well as reducing the quantity of waste and creating wealth, are also good for the environment, reducing the output of harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
published: August 2012
In The Gambia, Anthony Tabbal has established a business making fuel briquettes from groundnut shells. He was inspired to do this by his concern over deforestation in the country, with many trees being felled for firewood and charcoal making. With support from the Gambian Groundnut Company he obtains the waste shells for free, which enables him to keep the price of the briquettes down, costing less than charcoal while also being much cleaner and more efficient. This also helps him reduce the costs of fuel in his restaurant kitchen; cook Fatou Kamara also explains why she prefers to use the new fuel.
published: July 2012
In Nigeria, it is estimated that every year over 90,000 women and children die from illnesses caused by breathing smoke from open fires and cooking stoves. Felling of trees to provide the large amount of firewood used to cook food and keep warm is also causing deforestation, and this not only leads to soil erosion, but also contributes to climate change. The Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, with support from its global partner, has launched an initiative to introduce clean and efficient cooking stoves to 10 million Nigerian households by 2020. At the launch event in Abuja, Aveseh Asough speaks to those involved in this ambitious project, and learns more about how new designs of cooking stove can improve the health of women, children and the environment.
published: April 2012
Radio Ada, a community radio station in the Greater Accra region of Ghana, broadcasts in the local language to an audience composed largely of farmers and fishermen. High on their programming agenda are issues connected to climate change. With support from local extension services, the radio station has raised awareness about the need for crop diversification, use of irrigation and the importance of building soil health with manure and mulch. The station also advises listeners on suitable planting times, relaying up to date weather information. These strategies have helped people in the community increase their farming yields, despite the challenge of unpredictable rainfall.
published: March 2012
Ghana is one of several African countries taking a keen interest in the REDD+ scheme, which offers payment for planting and protecting forest areas. Adoption and promotion of REDD+ presents challenges however, and farmers are among those who are concerned as to whether they will ever receive the promised financial benefits. Kofi Adu Domfeh speaks to some of those involved with Ghana’s uptake of the scheme about the challenges and rewards that REDD brings, including the benefits it could offer in terms of local climate as well as the global picture.
published: February 2012
Kotu Strand in The Gambia is a beach area with many tourist hotels, attracting visitors from around the world. But in recent years, erosion by the sea has washed much of the sand away, leaving narrower beaches and threatening local hotels, bars and restaurants with flooding. Saidou Mballow is the manager of Solomon’s Fish Hut, which has been serving tourists for many years. He describes what he and other business owners are doing to protect their buildings, and urges the national government and international community to take urgent action to tackle coastal erosion, sea level rise and climate change.
published: January 2012
Through a simple processing technique, Demangam Victorine Luekam converts soya milk into a meat-like product. She then fries the soya meat in oil, which it allows it to be stored for up to a week, and sells cubes of it on sticks to a growing number of customers. Martha Chindong, who interviews Demangam, finds that soya meat is tasty as well as nutritious. It’s particularly good for menopausal women, as it contains natural oestrogen hormone. Eating soya products regularly helps to reduce the hot flushes that are a common symptom of menopause. And as a legume crop, soya also boosts soil fertility.
published: January 2012
Groups of women in Ghana have recently started selling a new milk-based product. Potagurt is made from a blend of milk and sweet potato, which is pasteurised and turned into a nutritious and filling type of yoghurt. IFAD’s Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing programme has provided assistance, including grants and loans in the form of yoghurt-making equipment, as well as training on hygiene, business development and record keeping. And by providing a new market for sweet potato, the initiative is also promoting greater cultivation of the crop in Ghana. Kofi Adu Domfeh speaks to some of those involved.
published: December 2011
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