Offinso (Ash), April 15, GNA - About 120,000 metric tonnes of food crops were produced under the Government's Forest Plantation Programme (FPP) and the modified Tuangya plantation system since their inception in 2001.
The crops which were produced from the hitherto, degraded forest reserves included maize, plantain, yam and cassava.
In addition, the programme had offered full time employment to 20,000 people throughout the country.
Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands and Forestry, made this known in a speech read for him at the district launch of the Community Forestry Management Project (CFMP) at Offinso on Wednesday.
He said, about 47,000 hectares of degraded forest had been replanted with trees since the President launched the programme in September 2001.
Prof. Fobih, said the forestry sector contributed about six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that, the sector generated about 174 million dollars for the export of wood and other wood products in 2003.
The Minister, however, said the critical problem facing the sector was the rapid degradation of the forest, which had resulted in the decline of forest resources.
Prof. Fobih, said the CFMP would ensure sustainable management and utilisation of forest resources through collaborative management. He appealed to the participating communities to work hard to restore the nation's forest reserves for posterity.
Mr J.E. Otoo, Executive Director of the Forestry Services Division of the Forestry Commission, said the division was working hard to ensure that the forest plantation programmes succeeded in the face of numerous challenges.
He announced that both indigenous and exotic plant species had been planted in various sites throughout the country. Mr Otoo, however, said bushfires and the activities of the Fulani herdsmen were threatening the survival of the project.
He appealed to the communities participating in the programmes to maintain their plantations and ensure that trees were protected at all times.
Dr V.K. Agyeman, Co-ordinator of the CFMP said, the 12 million dollar project, which was being sponsored, by the African Development Bank (ADB) and Ghana Government, aimed at alleviating poverty and ensure sustainable management and utilisation of the forest.
He said the objective was also to improve domestic incomes and improve timber supply for both the local and foreign markets. Dr Agyeman said about 20,000 families from the five participating districts; Offinso, Fanteakwa, Sunyani, Assin Fosu and Birim South would benefit from the project.
He said 3000 families in the Offinso district would benefit adding that, a total of 7500 hectares of forest were expected to be planted with trees and about 75 kilometres of feeder roads expected to be rehabilitated.