Farmers reap big by restoring degraded forests

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By Jackson Okata

Farmers in Ghana are benefiting from a reforestation project financed by the African Development Bank.

It has enabled them to practise inter-cropping on degraded forestland, boosting their finances while restoring and conserving forests.

Ms Christiana Akwabea, from Seikwa in Bono region, is one of the happy beneficiaries. A forest plantation management company, Form Ghana, which took a trans-formative forestry project loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), allocated her five hectares.

She is now practising inter-cropping and got 6,800kg from her first harvest. In the past, the mother of six owned no land and would buy maize from other farmers for resale.

“I had always wondered how I would get farmland for maize. Now, I just wait for a call from Form Ghana to complete the registration and land is allocated to me. This is encouraging and gives me a sense of reliability. I’m not burdened with getting land and money for land preparation,” she said.

Motivated by the rewards from maize farming, the farmer wants to double the acreage of the crop.

“I have put up a two-bedroom house and pay fees for my son in Europe as well as my other children,” she said.

“I also plan to expand my house with the inscription ‘Form Ghana Nti’ (For the sake of Form Ghana). I look forward to improving the standards of living of my family and educating my children to the highest levels.”

Form Ghana has partnered with the AfDB, the Forest Investment Programme of the Climate Investment Funds and the Ghanaian Government, to undertake an innovative public-private partnership in its forest sector. The project entails the reforestation of degraded forest areas.

Ghana’s forests have been in decline since the 1970s due to severe overpopulation. It has more than 300,000 hectares of highly degraded forest reserve land.

To address the issue, the AfDB and the Forest Investment Programme agreed in 2016 to fund the Restoration of Degraded Forest Reserves through the Certified Plantation project, with a $10 million concessional loan from the Climate Invest Funds and $14 million from the AfDB.

“This project, a collaboration between African Development Bank and Form Ghana, is an important step towards the expansion of large-scale reforestation and landscape restoration projects in Africa,” said Mr Paul Hol, the Executive Director, Form Ghana.

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