Nyakumasi-Ahenkro (C/R), July 19, GNA - Four communities and two plantations in the Central Region were on Monday presented with tree nursery equipment, valued at 200 million cedis to enhance afforestation in the region.
The communities are, Asebu-Sorodofo, Brimsu-Apewosika, Tegyemoso and Senya Breku, while the plantations are the Nakof and 'HIPC plantation' within the Baako forest reserve near Breman-Asikuma.
They were among others, presented with wheel borrows, Wellington boots, shovels, cutlasses, watering cans and wire nets from the Forest Plantation Development Fund.
The fund, established in 2002, provides technical incentives in the form of grants and loans to encourage, as well as support the establishment and management of forest plantations by both private and public sector agencies and has so far disbursed 40 billion cedis to support afforestation.
The money was used to cultivate 45,000 hectares of plantation, and provision of nursery equipment to selected local communities throughout the country. Presenting the items, the Chairman of the Board of the fund, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyehene, said the provision of the items had became necessary because the country was severely threatened with rapid deforestation.
He stressed the need for the National Plantation Development Programme to put in place and provide funds for farmers to undertake tree planting.
The Board Chairman called on the beneficiary communities to take good care of the items to enable them achieve the desired objectives.
Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, said his Ministry would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to get all degraded and poorly stocked areas reforested by individuals. He said it was the government's aim to replant 80,000 hectares of land by 2008 and stated that this was the reason why the modified 'Tuangya' system, which involves intercropping trees and food crops and the 'HIPC Plantation' development programme, had been put in place to help address the situation.
He said the HIPC Plantation, had between 2003 and 2004 put 17,500 hectares of degraded land under forest cover, at a cost of 92 billion cedis.
It was also offering full time employment to 13,706 youth and part time jobs for 9,030 others, throughout the country.
The Minister called on the beneficiary communities to put the equipment to good use, to reap the maximum benefit.
Nana Ato Arthur, Deputy Regional Minister, underscored the importance of forests in socio-economic developmen and commended the government for including the region in the programme.
Mr John Elletey, Regional Manager of the Forestry Services Division, said under the HIPC Plantation programme, more than 70 farmers received loans ranging from 20 to 100 million cedis to expand their plantations and expressed the hope that it would go a long way to improve afforestation in the region.
Odeefuo Tsibu Asare II, Omanhene of Atandansu Traditional Area, urged farmers, who have not yet joined the programme to do so, to avail themselves of the benefits.
He also asked them to do away with the "pull-him-down" attitude and to support those, participating in the programme.