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17.01.2005 Regional News

International workshop on urban farming opens in Kumasi

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Kumasi, Jan 17, GNA - A three-day international workshop on safe-guarding public health concerns, livelihoods and productivity on waste water irrigated urban and peri-urban vegetable farming in Ghana opened in Kumasi on Monday.

The workshop, which is being attended by water and food scientists, researchers and experts from Sri Lanka, Denmark, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Ghana, is the first phase of the Challenge programme for Water and Food project.

The Project aimed at using a holistic approach to improve land and water productivity, minimise public health risks and safeguarding livelihoods in irrigated urban and peri-urban agriculture.

It is being funded by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) under the Challenge Programme.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said most irrigated water sources for vegetable farming in urban cities were heavily polluted with untreated urban wastewater. He, however, said banning polluted water use had failed as that threatened the supply of perishable vegetables and livelihoods of urban and peri-urban agricultural dependants.

Professor Andam said it was therefore encouraging to learn that the Challenge programme on Water and Food Projects sought to use innovative multidisciplinary and integrated approach to identify user-oriented strategies to safeguard public health concerns without compromising livelihoods, land and water productivity in waste water irrigated urban and peri-urban vegetable production.

He called for effective policy dialogue that would enhance support for research and development efforts towards the improvement in irrigated vegetable production in the urban cities and reduce health risks associated with wastewater irrigation of vegetables.

Dr Kwame Amezah, Director of Extension of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), said urban agriculture, including market gardening, small scale livestock rearing, poultry and fish farming had contributed to income generations and urban poverty reduction.

He however, said the use of polluted wastewater, agro chemicals and fertilisers by urban vegetable farmers polluted underground water.

Dr Amezah, whose speech was read for him, said to address the issue, the ministry was providing micro and small scale irrigation which would focus on the provision of boreholes, dugout, tube-wells and other simple harvesting structures for small scale farmers.

The ministry was also collaborating with government agencies and departments such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Standards Board and the Food and Drugs Board to address the issues and ensure that good quality and wholesome food items were produced in urban towns.

Dr Amezah said it had been the plan of MOFA to review the issues and challenges of urban and peri-urban agriculture and find an effective agriculture extension interventions and pledged the support of the ministry to Challenge Programme to come out with more realistic and workable ideas for use in its future plans.

Dr Winston Andah, Co-ordinator, said the challenge Programme which was launch in Kenya in November 2003, had approved 50 projects for implementation.

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