The Banda District Assembly in the Bono Region in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have rolled out smart charcoal production initiative in the area.
The climate change mitigation technology, aimed at discouraging the people from cutting down trees for charcoal burning and also create sustainable employment for the rural population.
With the smart charcoal production, bamboo is burnt in a metallic charcoal kiln which produces less smoke and burns faster than the conversational method of charcoal production.
The joint initiative is expected to create direct employment for about 2,000 people in 14 communities in the Banda District.
Speaking during the Assembly’s Meet-the-Press Series held at Banda-Ahenkro, the district capital, Mrs Mary Konneh, District Chief Executive (MCE) of the area, said the initiative had become necessary to reduce the spate of forest destruction by charcoal burners in order to conserve the environment.
She said: “In our quest to protect the environment, we are also careful not to destroy the age-old business of the people. Charcoal production is the source of livelihood for many in this part of the country.”
To this end, the DCE said the UNDP had supplied the communities with three bamboo species from China, which takes maximum of three years to mature; it is also harder than the local bamboo species.
About 13 acres of the Chinese bamboo had been cultivated and would in due course be expanded to about 50 acres across the beneficiary communities, she added.
“Apart from using the bamboo charcoal as cooking fuel, there’s also huge export demand from China and South Africa, and, therefore, market is guaranteed for the producers,” Mrs Konneh noted.
She revealed that the success of bamboo plantation in the district, would serve as raw material base for a proposed bamboo factory which would be producing bamboo bicycle, among others.
Mrs Konneh further stated that the Assembly had also partnered with the UNDP to introduce bee-keeping and ruminant rearing as alternative livelihood activities in the area.
The DCE said: “We have so far distributed 200 bee hives, and more would be added on in December this year. We have given out male and female animals to about 100 interested persons for reproduction.”
FROM DANIEL DZIRASAH, BANDA-AHENKRO