Following research findings that Ghana’s biggest natural lake, Lake Bosomtwe, is gradually yielding to the harsh impact of climate change and harmful human practices for which the volume of water is receding while fish population and species are fast dwindling, some concerned organizations have teamed up to protect the important biosphere and heritage.

Pursuant to this, selected catchment communities of the lake are being empowered with sustainable alternative livelihoods to reduce over-dependence and excessive exploitation of the lake.

About 800 crop farmers selected from eight communities around Lake Bosomtwe have been empowered with new and improved technologies in farming practices that are under the Climate Resilience for Bosomtwe Smallholder Farmers.
They are to transfer the new superior farming technologies to about two thousand others within their environs.

The 20-month climate mitigating project saw the brain behind it, A Rocha Ghana, an indigenous environmentally concerned non-governmental organization, team up with the Crops Research Institute, CRI of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research take the beneficiary farmers through both classroom and practical training in best agricultural practices such as rapid mini propagation of plantain, strip cropping, mini set technologies using climate adaptation approaches.

The farmers were as taken through composting and organic-based chemical preparation using plants such as neem trees with the ultimate aim of discouraging the application of harmful chemicals in farming as well as some international collaborators like the Global Climate Change Alliance.

The Programmes Manager of A Rocha, Mr. Prosper Antwi, explained to GBCNews that, the main target is to prevent polluting the lake and life inside it.

“In the long term, we’re going to see that both biodiversities within the catchment is going to be enhanced and we’re going to have a very good lake in that, when you’re farming and you’re using inorganic like weedicide and other forms of fertilizers and all that, what happens is that, during rains, erosion take place, it affects the quality and the status of the lake, which in the long term, have an effect on the health situation of the people”, he explained.

The latest and most comprehensive study ever to have been conducted on the water resource by a team of both local and foreign scientists from Ghana’s reputable universities has established that while the volume of water in the lake has seen a consistent recession due to the harsh effects of the climate which has also resulted in the loss of fish species in it from 11 in the 1970s to five presently.

The number of people who heavily relied on it for household income and protein needs has substantially reduced from 84 per cent to 27 percent during the same period thereby pushing inhabitants of the 24 surrounding villages of the lake into migration and other means of fending for themselves and their families, regardless of the impact on the sustainability of the lake.

They were additionally provided with regular information on the weather by one of the Ghana Meteorological Agency, one of the partners, to enable them determine what activity to do on their respective farms at any point in time during the training. One of the beneficiary farmers, 51-year-old Akwasi Owusu, who confirmed his involvement in activities on the lake for many years, noted that, he and his colleagues have also been provided other materials that will help protect the lake from direct effects of the weather.

He said “I am a fisherman. I have also a farm just along the lake.

When A Rocha came in, they have given us tree seedlings to plant along the shores of the lake to protect the lake against direct sunshine that could cause it to dry up.”

As it with every meaningful project, the farmers and implementing partners organize periodic evaluation sessions to assess the work done so as to learn lessons that will guide the future of the initiative.

One participating farmer, Opanin Isaac Debrah from Atafram shared his experience with the project so far.
Opanin Debrah disclosed “I now have my composite ready for application during the January farming season.

I have about 500 of the new plantain suckers and yams. Through the new farming technology learnt, I am now able to increase my yield and profit as income.”

A Principal Technologist at the Crops Research Institute, Mrs. Mary Otiwaa Asante, one of the key resource persons on the project, while commending the farmers for their commitment and acceptance of the new technologies, disclosed that the Climate Resilience for Bosomtwe’s Smallholder Farmers project has now gained international recognition.

“The farmers have been very cooperative and successful. They opted for us to work on their own field and they didn’t charge us a penny. While working on it, they voluntarily do the labour work and learnt through the on-farm demonstrations and farmer schools. That has also made the small project win an award the COP level in Egypt as the Best Smallholder Farmer Demonstration”, the Principal Technologist said with a smile.

The Bosomtwe District Chief Executive, Mr. Joseph Asumeng, told GBCNews that, to ensure the gains made through the project are sustained, the Assembly is going to enforce rigidly its bye-laws on the lake.