Accra, May 18, GNA - The Forest Plantation Development Fund Management Board on Thursday appealed for financial support from institutions, development partners and other stakeholders to develop an efficient strategic plan for plantation development financing in Ghana. Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin,
the Okyenhene, and Chairman of the Board, said so far a total of 60 billion cedis had been disbursed to plantation developers in all the 10 regions, though more than 6,500 farmers and 150 private companies, with schools were still waiting to benefit from the loan.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on the "Status Report on Financing Mechanism for Plantation Development and Update on Fund Board Activities", he said the Board started with an initial capital of 70 billion cedis in 2002, but had increased resources to 104 billion cedis. He said about 43 billion cedis out of the total amount had been disbursed to the Forestry Commission to support the National Forest Plantation Development Programme. Ten billion cedis had also gone out as loans to the private sector.
Osagyefo Ofori Panin said the Fund's support to the Forestry Commission had resulted in the cultivation of a total area of 53,000 hectares of tree plantation with more than 90 per cent of the plantation made up of teak and indigenous timber tree species such as mahogany and ofam.
Osagyefo Ofori Panin said; "the fund disburses up to 50 million cedis per each application. This has been woefully inadequate, especially for large-scale plantation growers like timber firms. Approved funds were also not sufficient to meet the required capital costs, including tractors and nursery equipment, necessary to support the efficient implementation of large-scale plantation development in the country," he said.
Osagyefo Ofori Panin said a percentage of funds accruing from the competitive bidding of matured timber plantations could be ploughed back to support the establishment of new plantations. =93Additional funds from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Consolidated Fund and donor agencies should be provided to the Fund's Board to support plantation development in the country."
He called on the media to work in partnership with the Board to undertake an effective public awareness programme for plantation development and environmental conservation in the country. Osagyefo Ofori Panin, however, appealed to people taking the loans for other purposes aside the plantation development to desist from such acts since the law would deal drastically with anyone found to be involved in such acts.
"We want to work to achieve objectives, because members of the Board are dedicated in their quest to seeing that Ghana becomes green again as it was during the turn of the century when the forest cover was up to about 8.2 million hectares," he said.