Dr Ebenezer Laryea — Associate Professor of International Sustainable Development Law at University of Northampton
Dr Ebenezer Laryea — Associate Professor of International Sustainable Development Law at University of Northampton

Researchers conduct tests on innovative mulching alternatives

Researchers from the University of Northampton, through its Fresh Produce Impact Hub (FRESHPPACT), in partnership with Blue Skies, are developing and testing four innovative mulching solutions to reduce the dependence of plastic mulching along the value chain.


The innovations to be used include the use of coconut coir (husks) mulch by COCO 36”, Plastic mulch, no mulch applied and a Biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM) by CSIR South Africa.

For the next 12 months, the researchers will compare and assess the various innovations on how the mulching alternatives in their ability can retain moisture, suppress weeds and support high yield.

The researchers are cultivating a four-hectare demonstration pineapple farm located at Bawjiase in the Eastern Region.

The study, when successful, will be commercialised and communicated to industry players and Ghanaian farmers to adopt more sustainable farming practices that significantly contribute to soil fertility and food security in the short, medium and long term.

The study is based on the estimation that plastic constitutes 86 per cent of all waste generated in Ghana and 840,000 tonnes of the plastics are generated every year with just 9.5 per cent collected for recycling.

The FRESHPACT project is funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).


As part of the study, a round-table discussion was held to engage key stakeholders on the research solutions being developed by the university and its partners to help address the significant environmental challenges posed by plastic pollution in Ghana.

Speaking on the study, an Associate Professor in International Sustainable Development Law at the University of Northampton, Dr Ebenezer Laryea, said the study would bring innovation into the agricultural industry, preserve the soil fertility on farming lands, protect food security and also ensure future generations of farmers could plant on the same lands.

“The fact of the matter is that if our soil fertility and our food security are damaged, we will have to spend more money on food, importing food from outside of the country which would have a huge economic impact as it applies pressure on our currency, which has inflationary effect as well,” he said.

Legislative Framework

Dr Laryea said the pervasive use of plastics had led to a significant environmental impact, with over 8.3 billion tonnes produced globally, affecting terrestrial and marine ecosystems and contributing to climate change.

He, therefore, called for an effective strategic and comprehensive legislative framework that underpinned all plastic policies with enforced mechanisms, key targets and timelines.

He said the current plastic waste management policies overlapped in their policy structure and had several duplications; hence, the need to fortify and underpin the national plastic waste management policies as specific pieces of legislation.

Dr Laryea, therefore, urged all stakeholders to come together to discuss and identify the key challenges and find solutions to build a more robust comprehensive policy framework that addressed the significant environmental challenges posed by plastic pollution in Ghana.

He said the impact of plastic pollution had caused the country to lose not less than $100 million every year to flooding, adding: “This is as a result of the inability of the city's drainage system to drain water properly because it's choked by plastic.


The Foundation and Corporate Affairs Manager, Blue Skies Products Ghana, Alistair Djimatey, said his outfit was excited to be part of the project because it promised some action on addressing the plastic waste challenge in the country.

He said the company was committed to finding sustainable solutions to challenges along its value chain and promoting sustainable practices.

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