General Secretary, College of Agriculture and Natural Resource Students Association, KNUST
In an attempt to regain and reclaim devastated lands within mining communities, the government and stakeholders are collaborating to plant 5 million trees under the Green Ghana Programme.
The exercise will however achieve its full potential if the country is able to curb the thriving illegal mining activities which are hurting the country’s lands, forests and water bodies.
According to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, as of the year 1900, the forest cover of Ghana stood at 8,200,000 hectares.
“This forest cover has been depleted by a whopping 80% and today as we speak, the forest cover of the country stands at just 1,600,000 hectares. This is the least alarming and the time to act is now,” he said.
Various research works carried out in mining areas have proven that the degraded lands contain heavy metals, mercury and Cadmium in the soil and therefore dangerous to plant food crops for consumption.
A pilot project led by Tropenbos Ghana in Agyareago in Asante-Akim Central Municipality reveals heavy metals in all the food crops planted on restored mined land.
It’s against this backdrop that a final year agriculture student at Kwame National University of Science and Technology, Ayensu Jessica Ampofua, is calling on plant breeders to come out with a heavy metal absorbing trees and crop species that can stabilize the soil for food production on degraded lands by miners.
This she said would help the country restore the destroyed forest zones and the environment to its former glory.
She made the proposal on Oyerepa 100.7fm farmer’s program Akuafo Kye Fa.
Miss Ayensu fears for residents within the mining communities, looking at the recent hikes in food prices and their low disposable income.
She however believes a swift move is needed to address the food situation in the mining areas by considering crop species that would be risk-free from the chemicals in the soil that are harmful to food production