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23.08.2005 Regional News

Calls for financial institutions to support agro-forestry programmes

GNA

Savelugu (N/R), Aug. 23, GNA - Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, Northern Regional Minister, has called on environmental NGOs, financial institutions, the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, and Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiative to support agro-forestry programmes in the region.

He said such support would enable the people in the region to engage in large-scale cultivation of economic trees, including mangoes and cashew for export to reduce poverty and also improve the nutritional needs of the people.

Alhaji Boniface was speaking during an inspection of a two-acre 400,000 assorted local mango plantation at Savelugu in the Savelugu/Nanton District and one acre medicinal plantation at Kanvilli in the Tamale Metropolis on Monday.

The Regional Minister visited the two plantations to see for himself how Hajia Salamatu Ibrahim Taimako, a traditional herbal practitioner and agro-forester was using sachet water bags to transplant seedlings in her farms as her contribution to waste management and sustainable agriculture in the area.

Alhaji Boniface called for financial support from the district assemblies in the region to enable Hajia Taimako to expand her business and also encourage more people in the area to undertake agro-forestry as a source of employment for the youth who were mostly idling. Conducting the Regional Minister round the farms, she said she was constrained by financial support and lack of barbwire to fence her farms and called on NGOs for assistance.

Currently, the 400,000-mango nursery is yet to be grafted and supplied to farmers and organisation that were interested in agro-forestry programmes.

Hajia Taimako has been offering training to individuals to set up tree nurseries and agro-forestry plantation as well as practicing herbalists on the identification and cultivation of medicinal plants. Trainees, including farmers and students in the second cycle and tertiary institutions were also under studying her herbal practices. Hajia Taimako whose mother bequeathed the herbal knowledge and skills to her had received several awards from government, agencies, NGOs and an honorary doctorate degree from the University for Development Studies for her contributions to sustainable agriculture, environment and traditional medicine.

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