The Forestry Commission of Ghana (FC) has embarked on a three-year tree farm project under its National Forest Plantation Development Project (NFPDP) to fastrack the establishment of forest plantations in the country.
The commission launched the NFPDP in 2001 to ensure forest cover for degraded forest lands, create employment for forest-fringe communities and also ensure the availability of timber.
It would also enhance food production through one of its reforestation programmes, the Modified Taungya System (MTS), which is a co-management system between the FC and Smallholder Farmers.
The project, which commenced this year, would end in 2019.
The project is being undertaken by a consortium led by the Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) of the FC and supported by the University of Amsterdam, the University of Energy and Natural Resources and the Rural Development Youth Association (RUDEYA). The other partners are the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP).
The Food and Business Applied Research Fund and the WOTRO Science for Global Development in the Netherlands have provided 258,058 Euros to fund the project.
At an inception workshop at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipal Assembly, the Director of the RMSC, who is also the project co-ordinator, Mr Edward Obiaw, said the MTS would encourage the inter-cropping of timber and food crops.
He indicated that farmers were also entitled to 100 per cent of the food produce and 40 per cent share in the timber revenues in return for their contribution to tree planting, maintenance and protection.
Other benefits include the creation of climate-smart landscapes, the alleviation of the scarcity of farmlands and improving the livelihood of participating farmers.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FC, Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, explained that the MTS had been developed based on a partnership between communities and the FC through a benefit sharing agreement.
The agreement covers approximately 90, 000 hectares. The distribution is as follows: FC (40 per cent), Farmers (40 per cent), Traditional Authorities (15 per cent) and Communities (5 per cent).
He expressed confidence in the work of the consortium and its partners in addressing the challenges that came along with the successful implementation of the project.