Atronie (B/A) June 12, GNA - Mr. Emmanuel Dogbe, Brong Ahafo Regional Manager of the Forest Service Division of the Forestry Commission said at the weekend that the region's forest plantation cover was increased by 17,609 hectares as at the end of last year. He was briefing an 18-member Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry at Atronie in Brong Ahafo on the main achievements of the national plantation development programme in the region.
The Committee's two-day visit to Brong Ahafo was part of its tour of three regions to ascertain the progress so far made under the programme. They have already been to the Northern region and will also visit Ashanti.
The Committee, led by Mr. Andrew Adjei-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands and Forestry and including its Chairman, Mr. Ofosu Asamoah (MP for Kade) visited the Ayum Plantation in Amama forest reserve at Atronie, HIPIC Plantation site at Nsoatre and a plantation pilot project of Asuo Bomosadu Timber and Sawmills Limited at Berekum.
Mr. Dogbe explained that the Forestry Commission, taking advantage of the President's Special Initiative on Afforestation and to encourage sustainable forest management in the country planned to increase its forest plantation timber from the existing 30,000 hectares to 230,000 hectares by the year 2011 at a planting rate of 20,000 hectares per annum. He said 110,364 jobs were created as at the end of last year while 110 communities were trained in seed collection and processing, seedling production, pegging and planting.
The Regional Manager said the region's target for this year is 4000 hectares, adding that demarcation and clearing had been completed whilst pegging was in progress. Food supply was beefed up through the taungya farms established under the modified taungya system, as well as private plantation developers, Mr. Dogbe added. The Parliamentarians were visibly impressed with what they observed and what had been achieved as they openly interacted and commended the workers and taungya farmers engaged on the plantations.
Mr. Ofosu Asamoah urged the workers to redouble efforts to ensure the total success of the programme in view of the importance of the forest cover to sustained national life. He recalled that bushfires and other negative human activities had devastated the country's rich forest cover but expressed the hope that Ghanaians would continue to support the President's Special Initiatives, which sought greater private sector participation in national economic efforts.
Responding to the workers' complaints about lack of adequate inputs including cutlasses, Wellington boots, etc as well as the untimely payment of their allowances, Mr. Asamoah gave the assurance that the government was committed to the programme and would not relent in ensuring that they worked under satisfactory conditions. He said the tour had placed the committee in a better position to appreciate their difficulties and would ensure that pertinent problems that could stifle the efforts of private entrepreneurs were addressed.
Mr. Adjei-Yeboah, who is MP for Tano South, called on Ghanaians to continue to support the government to achieve is objectives in fulfilment of promises made. He pledged the government's commitment and support for programmes and initiatives aimed at ensuring better lives for all, in line with its policy of positive change chapter two.