A one week training course on vegetative propagation of Allanblackia Parviflora (Sookyi) in Ghana, has opened at the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) in Fumesua near Kumasi.
The aim is to disseminate information on techniques so far developed by the FORIG in the propagation of Allanblackia to enable farmers and seed technicians to select proper tree seedlings, establish and manage nurseries in a scientific manner and multiply selected trees through vegetative propagation such as cuttings, layering, budding and grafting.
Allanblackia Parviflora is an oil-rich tree crop that can also be used as shade tree, timber and for medicinal purposes. They are mostly found in the wild forests in the Western, Ashanti and Eastern regions.
Its seed oil is used in the manufacture of margarine and soap.
Unilever Ghana Limited is encouraging small holder production supply chain with fair returns to farmers, collectors and local processors.
The company needed a supply of 2,000 tonnes annually, but farmers and other collectors are able to supply only 110 tonnes.
The current research by FORIG with support form Unilever, aims at the possibility of rapid domestication of the tree for agro-forestry systems. It also aims at achieving rapid and substantial genetic improvement in yield and oil production.
Dr Daniel Ofori, Leader of the Allanblackia Domestication Project, at the FORIG, in an address at the opening session, said FORIG had selected 58 elite trees, which were being multiplied in a vegetative manner for distribution to farmers.
He said a new agric-business based on the oil of the tree was being developed in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tanzania, adding that, the rural base enterprise would not only increase livelihood opportunities for farmers, but also ensure retention of trees in farms for ecosystem functioning.
Dr Ofori said the research initiative was to come out with innovative ideas to reduce the germination and gestation periods of the tree.
Allanblackia in the wild takes about twelve to twenty four months to germinate and about eight years to bear fruits.
Dr Ofori said farmers were now willing to plant the tree provided there would be ready market, attractive prices, early bearing varieties and methods of propagation known to them.
Dr Victor Agyeman, Director of FORIG, said Allanblackia had been described as a miracle tree because of its enormous benefits and pointed out that the initiative taken by the private sector to develop the tree was a laudable idea and advised the participants to take advantage of the course to acquire skills that could help them to diversify their sources of incomes and improve on their living conditions.
Mr Jean Baptist Von Berg, Director of the International Tree Seed Centre (ITSC), said the research marked the new era for the Allanblackia tree, which had a huge potential.
He said there were plans to plant about 15 million trees in the near future and urged the participants to take the course seriously.