Two weed harvesters and two transport barges for harvesting water weeds were on Wednesday commissioned at Kpong in the Eastern Region to assist in reducing the spread of invasive water plants.
The commissioning formed part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s initiative dubbed “Ghana Integrated Management of Invasive Aquatic Weeds Project” which is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
It aims at controlling water weeds which include hyacinth, water lettuce and Kariba weeds in Tano and Volta rivers.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, said it was government’s desire to transform the water weed menace into an opportunity for enhancing livelihoods and income generation.
“We will expand the initiative and create the value chain that would attract investment to transform harvested weeds into compost to boost agriculture”, she said.
Ms Ayittey said government was in discussions with the European Union to assist the country to enhance the capacity of the private sector to utilize the water weeds to improve the competiveness of the banana sector on the international market.
Mrs Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Resident Representative of the AfDB, said the Bank had supported Ghana with a concessionary loan of $2,588,000 and a grant component of $323,500.
She said the five-year project had positively influenced and contributed to changes in social setting in areas that border on the welfare of the women and youth.
Mrs Akin-Olugbade said “women were part of and involved in the Community Water Weed Committees especially in Volta District where more than 50 per cent of their memberships were women”.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Acting Executive Director of the EPA, noted that water weeds had invaded water bodies especially in the Lower Volta, Kpong Head pond, the Oti and Tano rivers and Lagoon complex.
He said the estimated weed coverage in the rivers with the exception of Oti, stood at 6,066 hectares in 2006.
Mr Amlalo said the infestations had obstructed water supply, river transport, fishing and threatened hydropower generation and also increased the prevalence of water-borne diseases such as Bilharzia.
He said the project was also done in collaboration with seven riparian districts, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, University of Ghana and other stakeholder institutions.
Mr Amlalo expressed confidence that the District Assemblies would provide support to the Community Water Weeds to maintain the areas cleared so as to sustain the gains made under the project.