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The Savannah Zone Pilot - The Tropical Almond as an Afforestation Tool

Updated: Feb 14

The Savannah ecological zone is the driest of all the ecological zones in Ghana. This is so because of its proximity to the Sahel and the Sahara. The vegetation consists predominantly of grassland with few patches of drought-resistant trees such as baobabs and acacias. The Bongo District is predominantly rocky. The district lies in the northern tip of Ghana’s Upper East Region, nine miles from the Upper East Regional capital, Bolgatanga. The topography is generally flat or low lying with outcrops of granite and Birimian rocks. Much of the land surface is occupied by these rocks. The remaining arable lands are described as fertile possessing a well-drained, porous and with good water holding capacity. Continuous farming on the lands has depleted much of the organic matter. This has affected crop yield in the district. The diminished tree-presence, long dry seasons and increasing temperatures due to the impacts of the Sahel and the Sahara, is further impacting food availability and other environmental conditions.

School compounds in most of the savannah areas are bare lands offering very little shade to pupils. At Talmond we thought to pilot the tropical almond in the district to study its adaptability to the harsh conditions since the tropical almond is drought resistant and offers other environmental prospects. We believe that with the harsh climatic and soil conditions of the Bongo District, if the trees thrive there, then they will thrive in every part of the Savannah Ecological Zone. In this sense, the tropical almond could become a good afforestation tool for the savannah zone alongside other trees.

Tropical almond seedlings planted together with pupils at 10 schools in Ghana's northern Bongo District.

Working with the District Directorate of Education, Talmond piloted in July 2023 the planting of 150 tropical almond seedlings in 10 selected schools in the district. Five of the 24 elite varieties were used in the pilot, with each school receiving 15 seedlings of all 5 varieties.

The pilot has since given positive results. In November 2023, the monitoring of the trees was conducted. November marked the beginning of the dry season so it was necessary to understand how many trees were still standing since the planting. 89.3% of the trees were still standing at the time of the monitoring. This may indicate that the tropical almond can thrive in the savannah zone and with its prospects in environmental and climatic enhancement, is a good option for afforestation programs. This is in addition to its income generating potentials through the sale of the nuts to Talmond. Upcoming surveys in April will provide further results and insights into how the tropical almond can fare in such dry climatic zones.

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