A time for nature: Supporting biodiversity in Ghana

SNV Yams

Today, we mark world Environment Day with a global call for urgent action to be taken to protect biodiversity.

With increasing demands on the planet, humans have pushed nature beyond its limit. Over the last 50 years, the world's population has doubled; the economy has almost quadrupled and global trade has increased by about ten times. It would take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands that humans make of nature each year. This growing pressure is taking a big toll on the 8 million plant and animal species on the planet and their ecosystems.

On this occasion, we speak to Dramani Bukari, SNV Programme Manager who gives an overview of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) and the innovative projects that the centre is supporting to improve biodiversity in the developing world.

Can you explain a little more about the GCIC?

Founded in 2016, GCIC is a pioneering business incubator with a unique focus of developing SME ventures and entrepreneurs in Ghana’s ‘Green Economy’. The mission is to develop and support an exceptional set of transformational ventures and entrepreneurs who are pioneering adaptive and mitigating solutions for climate change issues in Ghana. This initiative is funded by a grant from the Governments of Denmark and the Netherlands through the World Bank.

What biodiversity initiatives is the centre involved in?

The GCIC Project is currently supporting Research Institutions to improve biodiversity and promote climate-smart agriculture through commercialization of selected key research findings; focusing on seed yam and soybean seed production.

Why are you focusing on improving the biodiversity of these particular crops?

Actually, the availability of quality seed yam is a key constraint to yam production in Ghana. The research adopts an Aeroponic system which is a rapid multiplication method of Breeder to Foundation seed using single node vines of yam where plants are grown in a soilless environment. Here they manage with very little water to produce seed yam products with high yielding, diseases and pests resistant, they have a long shelf life and more importantly good cooking qualities with longer storability. This technology is used to rapidly multiply yam seed from breeder seed to foundation seed-stage using single node vines of yam.

SNV, under GCIC Project, has also supported the set-up of a tissue culture laboratory in the northern region as part of the commercialization project to undertake yam seed breeding at the facility for the northern sector.

Tissue culture laboratory

Tissue culture laboratory

 Vines of yam

Vines of yam

Can you give an example of climate-friendly approaches that the programme incorporates?

Another significant biodiversity improvement under this project is the soybean seeds using the plant breeding technology - science and art of improving the genetic makeup of plants in relation to their adaptation to prevailing agro-ecology conditions and economic use. This climate-friendly approach is to help reduce chemical fertilizer application and improve soil fertility through biological nitrogen fixation, reduction in shattering rate, and higher crop productivity of soybean.

What has the project achieved so far?

Through the commercialization project, SNV, under GCIC has supported the production of 5 tons of the breeder seeds through the provision of engineered field fitted with sustainable irrigation facilities (solar water pumping and micro drip irrigation systems), harvesting equipment (multi thresher) and cleaning.