Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE) said shifting from one farm land to another every year, destroys the nation’s forest and its wildlife.
RICCE made the disclosure to farmers and members of the East Nimba Nature Reserve community of Zortarpa.
The executive director of RICCE, Salome Cooper, explained to locals that shifting farming makes labor more difficult by constantly moving from one location to the next. This subsequently leads to the destruction of the forest including the remaining species of wildlife.
Showing a film illustrating to locals how other methods of farming are done in other countries, she said, “in shifting farming methods, farmers do not yield more products from their farms,” and added: “shifting farming causes deforestation due to the felling of trees after brushing.”
RICCE is acting on behalf of ArcelorMittal to teach the farmers living around the its operational areas to progress from old farming methods to new ones.
In January of last year, RICCE introduced a new farming method, to the communities, called “conservation agriculture.”
In conservation agriculture, according to the RICCE, the farmer is not required to burn the farm after brushing; instead they are encouraged to go ahead with their planting. This gives the farmer the opportunity to continue farming on the same spot over and over with less energy being exerted.
“In conservation agriculture,” she said, “the same area can be used to plant different crops after harvesting the first crops.”
During the visit of the Daily Observer to one of the demonstration sites where cassava was planted, the cassava seemed to grow with a richer consistency.
Ms. Cooper told the locals at the one-day awareness held in Zortarpa on January 30th “You don’t go in the ‘hard bush’ to make your farm, you can make it on the same area over and over and again. Just brush the same farming spot and go ahead with planting your crops, you will see the result.”
The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and citizens of Zortarpa reached an agreement some years ago to co-manage the Northern Nimba Nature Reserve after years of a standoff between the FDA and communities over the surveying of the reserve.
ArcelorMittal also had a similar memorandum of understanding with citizens of Gbar to co-manage the Gbar Community Forest located along the border with Guinea in 2012.
The citizens of the Zortarpa community are said to be embracing the new farming system introduced by RICCE/Mittal.
“This type of farming is practiced worldwide, especially in countries where merchandise farming is carried out. Because of conservation agriculture countries like China and India are able to produce more food for their citizens and for importation,” said Renee Gibson, RICCE’s Program Officer.
Anthony Mankuah, principal of the local school in Zortarpa said, “We embraced this idea and we are going to put it into practice.”
“From the short demonstration we received last year, we understood how much we were wasting. That is why we must thank RICCE for the training they continue to provide us,” he said.
Meanwhile the FDA Zone # 1 Warden in the concessional area, Edward Smallwood, congratulated RICCE for the awareness campaign on behalf of the FDA and urged the citizens to put what they have learned into practice to help conserve the forest.