Six hundred thousand oil palm seedlings have been developed at Akwatiakwa in the Akuapem North District in the Eastern Region to be distributed to farmers for the 2019 planting season.
The production of the seedlings, which is undertaken by Richie Plantations Limited, falls under government’s Alternative Livelihood Project being implemented in mining areas to provide livelihood opportunities to former illegal miners.
It is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources through the Minerals Commission with support funding from the Minerals Development Fund (MDF).
Speaking yesterday at Akwatiakwa to launch the lifting of the oil palm seedlings, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, said more than 2,339 beneficiaries from 25 mining communities in Denkyembour, Abuakwa North and New Abirem Districts, where mining takes place, have been registered to participate in the programme.
The figure, he said, was a 26 per cent reduction as compared to the 3,442 farmers who benefitted from the Programme in 2018.
He said the project has further targeted the preparation of more than 10,000 acres of oil palm plantation within the project catchment areas in the region.
The programme was to mobilise illegal miners and sensitise them into adopting the project as a more lucrative, less hazardous means of livelihood and strengthen the efforts at diversifying Ghana’s export earnings by increasing the participation of farmers in the production of oil palm, the Deputy Minister noted.
Additionally, he said it was aimed at generating employment, both direct and indirect through the establishment of agro based industries to use the oil palm produce as a feed stock.
“The Alternative Livelihood Projects are developed to equip people living in mining communities with skills to improve upon their economic lives independent of mining.
“This is also to ensure that mining communities do not become ghost towns even after cessation of mining, and go a long way to reduce poverty and contribute significantly to the development of these mining communities in the region,” he stated.
Osabarima Ansah Sasraku III, Akuapem Kyidomhene, expressed gratitude to government for the initiative and called on traditional leaders in the region to get involved in the project to ensure its success.
In light of rising unemployment rate, he said the success of the programme was critical in creating job opportunities and providing livelihood to many Ghanaians in the region.
Board Chairman of the Minerals Commission, Sampson K. Boafo, urged the youths in the region to avoid falling foul of the law against illegal mining, saying “their lives could be ruined with prison sentences as enshrined in the new law.”
Chief Executive of Richie Plantations, Richard Ekow Quansah, appealed to the chiefs to make available farm lands for the programme beneficiaries to have easy access of land to participate in future projects.
FROM CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS, AKWATIAKWA