Mr. Michael Okine, Customer Service Officer of Asankrangwa Forest Services Division has urged farmers living along the fringes of the nation’s forest to contact and register with their respective Cocoa Buying Companies for the Supply of Seedlings to sustain the Agro-Forestry Programme.
Mr. Okine explained that over the last few years Samartex has been collaborating with Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit of the CMB and other Cocoa Purchasing Companies by raising seedlings for the rehabilitation of depleted off-reserve areas which have been planted into cocoa.
Mr. Okine was answering questions from farmers during a one-day workshop organized by Forest Research Institute on the theme “Strengthening the Capabilities of Forest Fringe Communities in Southern Ghana to halt illegal logging at Asankrangwa in the Wassa Amenfi West District of the Western Region.
The workshop which is an F.A.O, A.C.P – FLEGT VGA Project is funded by Food & Agricultural Organization and European Union.
Speaking at the workshop, the District Forest Officer, Mr. Joseph Bempah said the workshop was a booster towards halting illegal logging within the nation’s forest.
He said his outfit is educating the farmers to understand the damages of tree felling and its benefits so that our forests would be sustained for generations yet unborn.
Mr. Bempah said there is now than ever the need for farmers to embrace the idea of planting and maintaining trees on their farm lands to sustain the Climate for their cocoa growing and other farm cash crops.
Mr. Bempah said in the area of good governance, tree felling would be transparent and revenue earmarked would be used judiciously.
The Resource Officer of the Workshop, Mr. Sparkling Samar, a Research Social Scientist at the Forest Research Institute of Ghana stated that the Country has signed Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union which will provide a legal framework and compliance monitoring system aimed at ensuring that all timber imports into the European Union from our country have been legally acquired, harvested, transported and exported.
Mr. Samar made it clear that with the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement, individuals and communities will benefit through a guaranteed share of formal timber royalties in the form of stumpage fees and land rents and have better control over equitable distribution of timber benefits among different local stakeholders.
According to Mr. Samar, community development activities would not have less than 5% of stumpage value within the Social Responsibility Agreement and exploitation of timber for non-commercial and development purposes.
Later in an interview with management of Samartex to find out about their Agro – Forestry Programme, the General Manager Mr. Richard Nsenkyire explained that the engagement with the farming communities in Samartex catchment area is part of the company’s Social Responsibility.
The Project Advisor, Mr. K. K. F. Ghartey also explained that Samartex executed the project with assistance from GTZ with the aim of empowering the farmers by improving their living standards.
He said, the project involved raising seedlings free of charge for the farmers for planting in the cocoa farms liaising with the customary lands secretariat for the survey and mapping of cocoa farms and obtaining Land Titles to such farms thus enabling the farmers to own the trees they have planted.
He further said other activities included the training of the farmers in alternative income such as bee keeping, animal husbandry and fish farming. He said under the project which lasted 3 years, about 35,000 seedlings were raised each year for distribution to the cocoa farmers.
He expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the project since it has now attracted the participation of CSSVD and other cocoa purchasing companies which are now sourcing their seedlings from Samartex for distribution to farmers.
Mr. PETER KPAKPO ANKRAH
District Information Officer
Wassa Amenfi West and East District,
Western Region – Ghana.