Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Indigenous Tree Foods of Northern Ghana

By Naomi Gichungu, 2nd year MDP student

Ghana had never been my intention, I had dreamt and envisioned myself in Vietnam. It has however been a rewarding experience, in the country estimated to be the closest to the center of the earth. I have had a lot of fun making new friends, using the public transport, and interning with Tree Aid Ghana. Working in the area of food and nutrition security in the North has also been a great treat. 

Northern Ghana has three different regions; Upper East, Upper West and the Northern regions. These regions are characterized by Savannah grasslands and scattered shrubs and trees. They experience the least and erratic rainfall compared to the rest of the country and therefore long drought spells. Future projections further predict an increase in the temperature from 1.0 to 3.0 °C by 2060, with the highest increases in Northern Ghana. Such conditions have shaped the work of Tree Aid Ghana. 

Working on the questionnaire with the field officer/ interpreter during the pretest

Focus Group Discussion in Pindaa Village during the pretest

With the intention to alleviate poverty and ensure community food and nutrition security, Tree Aid invests in Indigenous food trees. It works with communities to create enterprises around non-timber forest products while encouraging preservation and sustainable consumption of foods from these trees. My time with Tree Aid has been spent designing a research study to document Indigenous knowledge related to Indigenous tree foods. An initial desktop review helped to shape my ideas which I developed into questionnaire and focus group discussion tools. I went out to meet the community members during my pre-test in Savelugu and Paga Districts. Indigenous knowledge has always fascinated me. Community members had rich information regarding species such as Adansonia digitata (baobab), Parkia biglobosa (African locust bean) and Vitellaria paradoxa (Shea tree) which have been very instrumental for food and income. I got to sample a few of the fruits.

My colleagues in the office
With the help of Tree Aid partners in the field, and with support from the Country Director, we have reviewed our research tools. The organization intends to commission the study and collect data through its field projects and partner organizations. The Indigenous knowledge gathered will be considered in the development of enterprises and conservation efforts. The organization is striving to involve the youth in its future projects and this research will serve as a stepping stone for these projects.

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