21.09.2004 General News

Ministry is addressing extinction problem of plants

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Fumesua (Ash), Sept 21, GNA- The Ministry of Environment and Science is to fully address the current rate of genetic loss, degradation and the extinction problem of Ghana's plant resources, as one of the key issues to the country's poverty reduction strategy. Dr Matthew Antwi, Deputy Minister of Environment and Science, who gave the assurance, however, said to achieve this objective, it was important for all stakeholders including policy-makers, researchers, industrialists and farmers to obtain sufficient and relevant information on plant resources.

"They should also be equipped with the dynamics of the ecosystem in which such plant resources are found so as to serve as a guide for their sustainable management", he added.

Dr Antwi gave the assurance at the launch of the Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA) Foundation at Fumesua near Kumasi on Tuesday. The PROTA is an international programme which aims at providing the much needed information links between past, present and future natural resources management initiatives.

It also seeks to link organisations in the Natural Resources Management sector by providing and distributing the "synthesis of available knowledge needed to make optional choices in natural resources management".

The launch was attended by a number of Deans and Heads of the various Universities in the country, Directors of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as well as research scientists.

The Deputy Minister lauded the PROTA, saying that the programme is to facilitate easy access to information on plant resources. Dr Joseph Cobbinah, Director of the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), attributed the low pace of development of Africa's natural/plant resources to lack of what he described as "the culture of documentation of information and record keeping".

He said the absence of proper documentation of information and records had made it impossible for decision-makers, educators and researchers to have any solid base for the exploration and development of the continent's natural wealth.

As part of measures to help address the problem, Dr Cobbinah disclosed that it was the mission of the PROTA to document and disseminate information on approximately 7,000 useful plants of Tropical Africa.

Dr Cobbinah said to ensure efficiency about information on plant resources, the documentation "will be done using different systems such as CD-Roms, web databases and handbooks".

Professor Alfred A. Oteng Yeboah, a Deputy Director-General of the CSIR, stressed the need for information on plant resources in a manner so as to be comprehended by stakeholders and not in a technical manner.

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