Boost for shea sector - 1,000 Seedlings planted in Savannah Ecological Zone
Global Shea Alliance (GSA) has begun planting the first 1,000 grafted shea seedlings in the Savannah Ecological Zone (SEZ) in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), giving the shea sector a major boost.
The grafted seedlings, the first of their kind to be planted in the history of the country, have a short gestation period of about five to seven years unlike the conventional shea trees which take about 20 years to mature and bear fruits.
Averagely, a shea tree takes 15 to 20 years to mature and bear fruits in the wild. However, the grafted shea seedlings which were developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), are more climate-resilient, disease and pest-resistant and have the potential to bear more fruits.
The 1,000 seedlings being planted by the GSA and its partners formed part of the Shea Landscape Emission Reductions Project (GSLERP) which seeks to mitigate the effects of climate change within the fragile ecosystem of the Northern Savannah Landscapes and to improve the shea value chain through four key components.
The components are restoration of off reserve, degraded savannah forests under self- financing community management in Community Resource Management Area (CREMA), restoration of degraded shea parklands through public-private partnerships, establishment of Modified Taungya System plantations and fire management in forest reserves and implementation of integrated monitoring system and strengthening of REDD+ systems.
A key feature of the project is the planting of 3.5 million grafted shea seedlings to restore degraded shea parklands.
Funded by Climate Fund, the seven-year project also seeks to plant native tree species, including Dawadawa, Baobab and Mahogany across the beneficiary areas.
Under the project, women in the various beneficiary communities are currently engaged in the management of the nurseries.
Planting the grafted seedlings at the 69 Airborne Military Camp in Tamale yesterday to kick-start the exercise, the Managing Director of Global Shea Alliance, Aaron Adu, indicated that the GSA and its partners intended to plant 3.5 million shea trees and 500,000 non-shea seedlings at the end of the project.
“So far, under component 2.1 of the project, the GSA has established 45 shea nurseries and potted 1,578,181 million shea seeds.
“From the seedlings developed in 2022, we have planted 70,940 non-shea trees, 3,047 shea trees and 25,000 grafted shea seedlings.
In 2024, we will graft 1 million seedlings and transplant them accordingly,” he said.
Aside from restoring the fragile ecosystem and tackling climate change, he said the initiative would also promote investments in the shea value chain and empower rural women, adding that more than 500,000 people are expected to benefit from the intervention.
While commending the partners and donors for ensuring the successful rollout of the project, Mr Adu urged beneficiary communities to own the trees and protect them from bushfires and human destruction to ensure their survival.
For his part, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey, said the grafted shea seedlings being planted symbolised hope, resilience and transformation in the country’s quest to restore the degraded ecosystem and tackle climate change head-on.
“It embodies our commitment to preserving our natural resources, improving the livelihoods of our communities and mitigating the effects of climate change.
“Each seedling stands as a testament to our determination to build a greener, more sustainable future for the fragile ecosystem of Northern Savannah,” he noted.
He said the GSLERP was the second flagship project to be developed out of Ghana’s 20-year REDD+ strategy launched in 2016, adding that “the GSLERP also has the potential to generate emission reduction payments for results if the project is successfully implemented to achieve its planned contribution to Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement”.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Dr Angela Lusigi, lauded Ghana’s commitment to reversing degradation, protecting forest livelihoods and responding to the threat of climate change.
She said interventions such as the GSLERP was a step in the right direction in helping people live in equilibrium with nature to build lasting prosperity.
“We are convinced that effective partnerships are the key to successful implementation of Ghana REDD+ strategy.
This is why we are fully invested in ensuring that reducing deforestation, forest degradation and carbon emissions through the Ghana Shea Landscape Emissions Reduction Project brings transformational change in Ghana’s Northern Savannah Zone”.
She reiterated the UNDP’s commitment to continue to partner the government to initiate deliberate interventions targeted at preserving the environment and improving the general well-being of the people.
The Commanding Officer, 69 Airborne Force, Lieutenant Colonel Louis Yaw Boakye, thanked the GSA and its partners for collaborating with the command to undertake the tree planting exercise, saying that the partnership exemplified the spirit of unity and shared responsibility in addressing critical environmental and community challenges.