Seeds of Education: RTE Teams Up with NASCO to Help Ghana Students Grow Trees

Remineralization initiative at Ghana schools

Monitoring a planted tree in protective structure.

Remineralize the Earth is teaming up with the NASCO Foundation, which aims to plant fruit-bearing trees at 23 schools in Ghana, to teach students to care for nature as part of the ongoing fight against global climate change, while also contributing to the financial sustainability of their schools and generating local employment.

For its part, RTE plans to coordinate the application of rock dust at one to three of the schools to create a more diverse agroforestry system along with the cashew trees. Potential candidates for the agroforestry system include shea and mango (which are feasible provided there is water access).

“Our interest in partnering would be to have the schools do a demonstration trial with and without a local source of rock dust to see what difference it could make for increased health, yields, and nutrient density of the agroforestry fruit and nut trees,” says Joanna Campe, executive director of RTE. “We do know that rock dust makes trees more drought, disease, and insect resistant–partly through the increased silica, which strengthens the trees.”

About NASCO

Map showing the locations of the schools in Sawla Tuna Kalba District.

NASCO is a non-governmental organization that provides digital education for Ghanaian youth, which helps them access the information needed to create opportunities and decide their future. Through their Feeding Minds program, the group also aims to increase the food security of these youth through a tree-planting program in the West African nation.

Ghana’s mainly forest and savannah ecosystem is key for the conservation of native plants and animals, as well as the subsistence of local communities. However, climate change and human activity have destroyed much of the forests in recent years, thus negatively impacting the flora, fauna and families that rely on those trees to survive.

NASCO is collaborating with 23 schools in the Sawla Tuna Kalba District, located in the dry Northern Region of Ghana. This is the driest region of Ghana. Each school has between 12 and 24 acres of land around it.

In a 2016 pilot program, students planted more than 200 cashew trees in Jintalpe Junior High School, out of which 148 did thrive. Last year, students planted an additional 250 trees in Sawla Girls vocational school. Each student is assigned one or two trees to take care of for this project.

School teachers train the students to take care of the trees, and motivate them with positive scores if they perform this duty well. This positive reinforcement enhances awareness towards caring for nature and the importance of trees to fight climate change, as well as to improve the livelihoods of local communities.

Funds for all

In a classroom in one of the schools in Ghana.

These trees will increase the local budget for educational centers and student training. Revenue from the tree harvest will be distributed 50% for NASCO and 50% for the schools, with NASCO’s share used to cover part of the costs of the project itself, as well as for the development of other projects.

In terms of providing the necessary water to integrate the trees into upcoming phases of the project, which is RTE’s aim, it can be achieved by drilling a borehole. Campe says, “We hope to increase yields and nutrient density, and create income and food security.” Remineralize the Earth is launching a fundraising campaign for this project soon, and we will keep you up to date.

Carter Haydu is a writer, reporter, and journalist based in Alberta and Saskatchewan. He works for JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group, with regular articles appearing in the Daily Oil Bulletin. He is a freelance columnist with the award-winning Quad Town Forum weekly newspaper, based in Vibank, Saskatchewan. He also contributes content for a series of magazines in and around Regina and Saskatoon. He received a BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Augustana University College in 2001 and a diploma in journalism from Grant Macewan College in 2005.

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