GREEN GOLD IS A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AND FOOD PRODUCTION company based in Ghana that produces, processes. and markets premium quality Moringa products, practicing syntropic, climate-smart restorative agriculture. It produces a variety of highly nutritious organic foods to reduce malnutrition, improve food security and create sustainable jobs amongst the most vulnerable groups in Ghanaian rural areas, while improving the environment.
Green Gold is building a food forest based on the principles of syntropic farming. They are trying to build a regenerative, climate-smart farming system; and farmers build soil using biomass-derived from weeding and integrate local plants to help support biodiversity. They integrate iron and nitrogen-fixing plants in the farming system, trying to avoid disturbing the soil.
Also known as successional agroforestry, syntropic farming mimics a natural rainforest’s interdependent plant relationships – using principles that can be applied in food production. It takes the complexity of the ecosystems into account, and eliminates chemical inputs. The right choice of plant companions and their spacing is crucial. The syntropic system is intended to form a healthy relationship towards insects and helps the planted species to protect themselves. If planned correctly, it results in improved soil quality while also facilitating significant reductions in water and nutrient inputs, and a syntropic system can produce an almost continual harvest of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers or forestry timber over a 20-40 year span, according to proponents of this system.
Agroforestry is hardly known by local farmers, but the combination of crops and Moringa trees enhances local food security, optimizes land usage, and through the unique qualities of Moringa, can reduce degradation of the soil. Other farming activities which can be effectively combined with Moringa production are currently under exploration, an example of which is bee farming. Bees feed from Moringa flowers, and in return, the activity of the bees results in increased seed production, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
When Clement founded Green Gold, he began focusing mainly on Moringa production. He saw in this plant the potential to save people in rural areas from poverty and dramatically improve their nutrition. But when they started to establish a productive plantation, they realized that the soil ph wasn’t good to successfully produce crops. Decades of monocultures and industrial agriculture depleted the soil of its nutrients and its capability of hosting plants, sentencing it to sterility. This problem not only affected Clement’s farm but also hundreds of other farmers in the region. Clement had to find a new way to change the soil features and needed to drastically change methodology. That’s how he decided to shift Green Gold to agroforestry, and more precisely to syntropic farming.
Green Gold today is a 1000-acre commercial Moringa farm, that serves also as sustainable agricultural practices playground and education center to share the practices of agroforestry with smallholder farmers. Green Gold also includes a network of 400 smallholder farmers that they train, equip and certify to enable them to sell Moringa products in the national and international market. Some are producers of Moringa seeds, others of leaves. The economic opportunities that Green Gold brought to the region convinced the farmers to aggregate in community-cooperatives that act in solidarity. Green Gold gives 50% of its income to the community cooperative that has then can decide to reinvest this money in development projects for farmer communities or in the company.
Clement’s goal is to be an example for other producers and big companies to show that it is possible to make a profit while restoring the environment. Since Clement founded the company, they experimented with different vegetables and improved upon the basic model. The core crop in the model is still Moringa olifeira, from which they harvest and pre-process the leaves and seeds. They mill the first into powder and press the second into oil. This pre-processing is crucial because it allows not only to drastically decrease post-harvest loss but also to better store and ship Moringa to the international buyers, mostly food companies.
The other elements in this diversity-based system are plantain, banana, jetropha, lucaena (or other nitrogen fixing trees), gmelina (or other biomass producing tree), a variety of perennials, and an animal rearing system consisting of poultry (chickens, guinea fowls, turkeys), rabbits, and cows. The whole system is intelligently designed to both grow quality products and create accumulative systems that could serve a broader international market.