Ghana has embarked on measures to monitor and control environmental hazards that negate good agriculture practices and food security as well as water resources management for agriculture and animal husbandry.
The measures which include interpreting and using information derived from satellites observations on the vegetation in the country falls under the African Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) project.
AMESD is an African initiative aimed at strengthening the operational use of earth observation technologies or satellites to ensure the viability of environmental and climate applications in Africa.
It is being funded by the European Commission which has mandated ECOWAS to implement the project in the 16 member-states which include Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Chad.
Launched in 2007, AMESD is scheduled to run to mid-2013 and it being managed by the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A steering committee provides guidance to the programme and is composed of the main AMESD stakeholders: the five Regional Economic Communities (RECs) ECOWAS, Southern African Development Community ( SADC), Communauté Economique et Monétaire d'Etats d'Afrique Centrale (CEMAC), Inter-governmental Authority (IGAD), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the ACP Secretariat.
At the opening of a four-day stakeholders’ training workshop in Accra, Mr James Ayitey, a Director at Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), who is also Ghana’s National Focal Person for AMESD, said the body is a continental-wide project financed under the European Development Fund and allocated to the five African Regional Economic Communities, namely ECOWAS, IGAD, IOC, CEMAC and SADC.
Within its four years of existence, the project is expected, to help improve access by African users to existing basic earth observation data, development of regional information services to improve decision making process by African institutions, and also strengthen political and policy development frameworks, such as Global Earth Observation or Global Monitoring Environment and Security-Africa.
Mr Ayitey explained that the workshop forms part of the development of human resources through stakeholder training sessions, staff exchange and fellowship programmes.
Ethiopia was the first Africa country to implement the project in 2009 while Ghana started hers in 2010.
He explained that ECOWAS had selected AGRYMET Regional Centre, a specialised institute of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel to implement the project.
He noted that the training workshop would help review the different indicators made available in the framework of AMESD and to discuss with participants about their possible use for monitoring activities during the agricultural season and their relevance to illustrate food security and natural resources management early warning bulletins.
Dr Emmanuel Tachie-Obeng, of Environmental Protection Agency, said Ghana currently has a satellite that gathers data on the vegetation, bush fire levels, and weather patterns.
He said such data would be analysed to inform policy makers and other stakeholders on measures to take to ensure safe agricultural environment.
Dr Seyduo Traore, Head of Interstate Committee for Drought Control said AMESD initiative is to provide all African nations with the resources they need to manage their environment more effectively and ensure long-term sustainable development.
It also aimed at improving the lives and prospects of many people in Africa whose livelihoods depend heavily on their environment.
He said AMESD provides decision-makers in the RECs, the AUC and at national level with full access to the environmental data and products they need to improve national and regional policy and decision-making processes.
Mr John Nortey, Deputy Director, Statics, Research and information Directorate of MoFA, described the project as a welcoming initiative that it would provide accurate information and increase information management capacity on environmental and agricultural issues, especially in Ghana.