The Director of the Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centre (AFRITAC) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Oral Hiworth Williams, has called on the government to ensure proper preservation of the country's natural resources, especially the once vibrant Aburi Botanical Gardens, to generate revenue for the economy.
He said the Aburi Gardens, which used to be one of the busiest tourist sites in the country and one of the leading gardens in the world for research into tropical botany, was gradually losing its glory due to the lack of proper maintenance culture.
Mr Williams, who made the call at the 2018 Ghana Garden Flower and Show (GGFS) at the Efua Sutherland Children’s park in Accra last Friday, said: “The Aburi Botanical Gardens at its zenith stood as a first among equals along with Castleton and Hope Gardens in Jamaica.”
“Let us not forget the upkeep of our treasured Aburi Gardens, which is rich in flora and fauna.
We should know that tourists bring much needed foreign exchange and foster greater integration between agriculture and tourism,” Mr Williams said.
The 2018 flower and garden show, dubbed: “Enriching Ghana: a garden at a time,” attracted about 150 exhibitors who showcased several items, including ornamental plants, flowers, herbs and spices, garden tools, garden pots and furniture, African beads and clothing.
The seven-day show, which is in its sixth edition, attracted high profile personalities, diplomats, chiefs and middle-class workers among others.
Organised by the Strategic Communication Africa Limited (Stratcomm- Africa), the event was aimed at promoting the benefits of garden and flowers with regard to income generation, job creation, clean and healthy environment and lifestyle, beautification of the country's public spaces and homes, as well as the promotion of environmental conservation.
The IMF director, while commending President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his fight against illegal mining operations, urged him to ensure its total eradication to protect the environment and preserve its potential.
He further urged the government to put in place stringent policies to tackle plastic waste, which he said was increasingly becoming a drain on the economy.
“Plastics are a hazard but there is scope to recycle them to get a potential source of income, households can transform them for potted plants, herbs, aromatic teas, vegetables and of course for generating compost for households.
“We should also consider having home-grown flowers substituting for the imported, save foreign exchange and provide employment for a large number of the young population,” he added.
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Ron Strikker, commended Stratcomm Africa for the initiative and urged Ghanaians to support the good work to ensure a healthier and greener environment.
The Chief Executive Officer of Stratcomm Africa, Ms Esther A. N. Cobbah, explained that the rationale behind the fair was to ensure that the entire country became green.
She said her outfit, as a communications network, sought to create awareness among Ghanaians of the environmental, commercial, aesthetic and the health benefits of horticulture and floriculture.
“We seek to achieve a greener, cleaner, wealthier, more beautiful Ghana and also contribute to the realisation of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she stated.
Ms Cobbah used the occasion to call on Ghanaians to support the campaign on flower garden instead of plastic garden to preserve the environment and maintain its beauty.
The fair is a flagship activity of the Ghana Garden and Flower Movement that Stratcomm Africa initiated with the first edition of the show in August 2013.