Vegetable farmers in urban and peri-urban areas of the country have been introduced to an affordable green technology that uses vetiner grass to treat waste water.
The technology, which has a strong mitigating effect on the environment, was developed by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resource in Africa (UNU-INRA) for use by vegetable farmers in urban and peri-urban areas in Ghana and other African countries.
The institute has organised a workshop for vegetable farmers in the Greater Accra Region on the technology to assist them to produce safe and healthy vegetables.
Dr Effiom Oku, a Research Fellow of UNU-INRA, who facilitated the workshop, said vetiner was a tropical grass with deep roots which when planted in untreated waste water used in irrigation, had the ability to remove contaminants in the water, bringing it to an acceptable safe level for use by farmers.
He indicated that untreated waste water from open drain was a resource for farmers in the urban and peri-urban areas as it is available throughout the year, unlike fresh water and other sources which were scarce or could dry up.
Dr Oku noted that Ghana had no institutional support to check the health risks associated with the use of untreated waste water for irrigation, hence the new technology was welcome news.
Dr Oku painted a dark picture about the health implications of the use of untreated waste water by vegetable farmers.
For instance, he said, the untreated waste water used by urban vegetable farmers had a high level of heavy metals, pathogens and other contaminants that affect the health of the farmers, consumers of the vegetables, the soil and crops.
Dr Oku further stated that the UNU-INRA was mandated to find a practical solution to the environmental challenges that confronted United Nations’ member states.
He said the institute was also tasked to find an indigenous, sustainable and affordable solution to the use of untreated waste water by urban and peri-urban farmers.
The Administrative Officer of the UNU-INRA, Mr Benjamin Turkson, said the workshop, which involved the agricultural extension and community development officers, would enable them to follow up and help the farmers produce safe and healthy food in the country.