Government have been advised to sensitize farmers against the expansion of farmlands and rather concentrate on the usage of same lands for maximum yield.
This is because wanton cultivation of new lands would lead to degradation of the environment, depletion of the soil nutrients and loss of biodiversity, which would not be in the interest of future generations.
The advice was given at a workshop to disseminate information on how to utilise an Atlas on Land Cover and Land Use, developed by the USAID, and its partners for West African countries.
Speaking in an interview with Awake News on the side-lines of the workshop, USAID’s West Africa Mission Director, Alexander Deprez noted that there was the need for government to ensure efficient use of the farm lands to increase yields.
He said the current practise of expansion and cultivating on virgin lands is yet to deliver significant gains in productivity but it has rather led to loss of forests, woodland and soils.
“Without doubt, the productivity and performance of the Agricultural sector across West Africa is seriously challenged, and the governments and people of the region still live with the threat of a food crisis,” he stated.
The document put together by USAID and its partners titled, “Landscapes of West Africa: A Window on a Changing World”, showed the expansion of agricultural land was one of the most obvious land cover changes in Ghana.
From 1975 to 2000, agricultural lands expanded from 13 per cent to 28 per cent of Ghana’s total area, and continued rapidly, reaching 32 per cent of land area in 2013.
Forest degradation showed a slight decline in area from about 1,400 square (sq) kilometres (km) in 1975 to 15,500 sq km in 2000.
It, however, accelerated sharply between 2000 and 2013 with forests reducing by an additional 20 per cent in 2013.
Mr Deprez said there should be more support by governments, donors and private sector to increase productivity, especially for small scale farmers.
Head of Training and Research Department, CILSS/ARC, Professor Sanoussi Atta, also said if the current trend is not changed, it would lead to increased forest degradation and extinction of some animal species in the future.
He urged national governments and other stakeholders to widely disseminate the Atlas, which he said, was also available for free online, so that people could use it in solving the problems as well as for advocacy.
On his part, the Executive Director of the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services, at the University of Ghana, Foster Mensah noted that “for the next 10 years or 15 years, if we do not manage what we have, we will still be depleting and extending.”
Please click https://eros.usgs.gov/