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Upfield, partners begin tree-planting exercise in the north

BY: Mohammed Fugu
Jarigbandaana Abdulai Sulemana (arrowed), Chief of Saadaafong, planting a seedling. Looking on are Shea cooperative members and Upfield officials
Jarigbandaana Abdulai Sulemana (arrowed), Chief of Saadaafong, planting a seedling. Looking on are Shea cooperative members and Upfield officials

Upfield, a plant-based food company has begun the planting of shea and other indigenous trees in the North East Region to promote a sustainable environment.

The company, in partnership with a landscape restoration firm in the country, Eco Restore Ltd, has planted trees at Tinguri, Gbimsi, Sayoo and Saadaafong in the Northern Region.

Chiefs, women and youth leaders joined officials of the company in the exercise.

Upfield and its partner will also monitor the survival of the seedlings for two years.

The tree-planting exercise formed part of Upfield’s second phase Shea Sustainability Project which was launched in the country in December last year.

Upfield’s Global Director of Sustainability and ESG, Sally Smith, said: “The global food system has to be transformed from what we choose to eat to how it is grown. We have an essential part to play, as the window of opportunity to make a real impact on climate change has started to close.”

She said the company intended to plant 6,000 trees in northern Ghana over the next three years to enhance the livelihoods of smallholders and plant-based entrepreneurs.

“With shea being one of the core ingredients of our products, we are proud to be part of such an important project that will support the long-term sustainability of the crop,” the director added.

Sustainability strategy

The Managing Director of Upfield West Africa, Bamidele Amao, said beyond responding to the call by the government to plant trees on Green Ghana Day, the project was engrained in the company’s sustainability strategy.

“Upfield is increasing the use of shea in its product formulation and locally sourcing some of the raw materials to improve the shea value chain and Ghana’s economy,” he said.

He also said the company was planting shea trees and other mixed indigenous food plants and wood-fuel species which would be commercially beneficial to communities where the project was implemented.

He said the shea sustainability project was in line with Upfield’s commitment to a healthier, happier and better plant-based world, leveraging its environmental, social and governance strategy.

”We have another pillar of the project which will focus on improving livelihoods, health and safety of women sheanut pickers which we will announce in the coming weeks,” Mr Amao said.

For his part, an executive director of Eco Restore, Dr Zakaria Issahaku, said bringing indigenous tree crops back to community landscapes would go a long way to improve dietary and environmental resilience.

“African tree crops are like our children — they need long-term support from the whole community to raise them. Seeing the enthusiasm in tree planting, it has given us the confidence that we can successfully restore these landscapes,” another executive director of Eco Restore, Dr Peter Lovett, said.

Assurance

The Chief of Saadaafong, Jarigbandaana Abdulai Sulemana, gave an assurance that the community would engage all stakeholders, including livestock caretakers, to ensure total protection of the trees.