50,000 degraded land earmarked for bamboo plantation

Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh(left) on a bamboo bike whiles Ehunabobrim Nana Prah Agyensaim VI(right) and others looks on. Photo Victor A. Buxton

Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh(left) on a bamboo bike whiles Ehunabobrim Nana Prah Agyensaim VI(right) and others looks on. Photo Victor A. Buxton

About 50,000 hectares of degraded lands in Ghana’s forest reserves has been earmarked for bamboo plantation, as part of the Ghana Forest Plantation Development Strategic Plan.

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, explained that the development of the plantation was to raise different species of bamboo that could absorb chemical contents such as mercury, which was used for illegal mining from the soil.

“As at now, we know that those degraded lands have chemical components like mercury, which was used for the activities of illegal mining. The plan is to cultivate bamboo plantations, rather than food crops on these lands, which can absorb the mercury contents. These bamboos can then be used for furniture and construction works,” he stated.

He was speaking yesterday in Accra at a Bamboo and Rattan Investment Forum on the theme “Harnessing the Potential of Bamboo for Socio-Economic and Environmental Development in Ghana.”

Currently, bamboo resources in the country is estimated at 300,000 hectares, spread across forest vegetation zones in the Western, Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central and parts of Volta region.

The minister said the government was focused on fulfilling its pledge of establishing at least 1,000 hectares of bamboo per annum, to create raw material base to stimulate investment in the sector and also serve as a substitute for increasing demand for timber.

“In view of the current alarming rate of deforestation in the country and the high demand for wood and wood products which virtually has declined in volume and quantity, bamboo could serve as a potential rescue to the ailing timber industry, he said.

“As a government, we acknowledge the important role it could play in creating businesses employment avenues and livelihood options for our rural folks. We are therefore putting in place the right policies to improve bamboo and rattan development,” he added.

Due to its sustainable, fast growing and tensile strength when processed as well as socio-economic and environmental benefits, Mr Aasomah-Cheremeh said it was the government’s desire to protect bamboo and promote its utilisation.

In view of this, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh, noted that the government was collaborating with its Chinese counterpart to train more than 100 artisans from the country, as a way of technical support and skills development to make them competitive in the sub-region.

Further to this, the minister said the government had approved  the establishment of a Bamboo and Rattan Processing and Demonstration Center at Ayi-Mensah, a suburb of Accra  to provide skills training to Ghanaian artisans and investors in the bamboo industry.

In a speech read on his behalf, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, Chief Executive Officer, Forestry Commission, said there were several opportunities for bamboo investment in the country with foreign exchange earnings being a key benefit if bamboo shoots, the edible and nutritious part of a bamboo, were exported to Asian countries.

Similarly, he said it could also be used for medicinal purposes and was used widely by pharmaceutical firms across the world as well as be used in local diets in Ghanaians were sensitised on its health benefits.

By Claude Nyarko Adams and Abeduwaa Lucy Appiah

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