AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) has begun steps to diversify the local economy of Obuasi and other areas with a climate change driven agricultural programme, which forms part of the ten-year Socio-Economic Development Programme.
While it aims at contributing to Ghana’s emission reduction target through agroforestry by 2026, it also seeks to diversify the local economy of AGA catchment areas by creating jobs for the youth and reducing dependency on AGA.
The first phase began a year ago and lasts five years, and the second phase comprises another five years which will end in 2026.
Dubbed Climate Resilient Oil Palm Project (CROPP), the project seeks to improve livelihoods for 750 smallholder oil palm farmers in five Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) through sustainable oil palm production by 2026.
These MMDAs are: Obuasi Municipal, Obuasi East district, Adansi North and Adansi South districts. In an attempt to advance this policy, a total of 4,267 acres of existing farmland has been mapped to support the project, with thirty agricultural extension officers trained on Best Management Practices who will pass on their knowledge to the farmers.
These officers have been equipped with implements such as sickles, flip-charts among others to be used for their operations. Two local nursery operators have been identified and supported to establish a local oil palm nursery.
CROPP aims at contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation through local economic development by improving the livelihoods of beneficiaries in the four MMDAs: namely Obuasi Municipal, Obuasi East district, Adansi North and Adansi South sistricts.
Apart from Solidaridad, which is providing a technical support for the programme, MMDAs will be on the ground to implement the policy; meanwhile, the private sector will also play a role in the realisation of CROPP in the abovementioned MMDAs.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of the stakeholders’ engagement – which was held by AGA under the theme ‘Contributing to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation through Local Economic Development’ – Mr. Emmanuel Baidoo, Sustainability Manager for AGA, mentioned that CROPP intends to make Obuasi a major contributor to the national food basket of Ghana.
This objective, according to Mr. Baidoo, emanates from the ten-year Socio-Economic Development Programme (SEDP) of AGA.
He mentioned that Solidaridad has partnered AGA and they are expecting to get about 500 farmers who are already into oil palm or new farmers to help them plant the cash crop, recording two thousand hectares of oil palm farms which are in good condition.
Madam Rosemary Addico, programme manager for National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS) at Solidaridad, told the media that Oil Palm is resilient crop so they decided to bring this on because they are trying to build a resilient economy for AGA’s professional areas.
Asked if beneficiaries are going to start new farms to actualise this dream, Madam Addico explained that they are going to use already existing farms and make them more productive, adding that smallholder farmers do not have basic knowledge of best practices, hence they are trying to build their knowledge base and best management practices so they are able to adapt.
She also disclosed that the programme seeks to introduce the youth to new practices and equip them with knowledge and tools.
On economic opportunities for the private sector in the five MMDAs, she mentioned to the media that they expect the private sector within the local economy to take opportunities and sell the tools.
“We expect the private sector to go into nursery so that they can sell the seedlings; we expect a private sector set-up for the farm services companies so they direct the youth to provide services,” she stressed
The Municipal Chief Executive for Obuasi East, Madam Faustina Amissah, earlier urged farmers to take the AGA programme seriously since it has economic potentials.
She however bemoaned the practice whereby some farmers go for seeds and do not use them, while their colleagues are in dire need of seedlings.