Statistics from the Forest Service Division and the Forestry Commission programme indicate there was bumper harvest of food production, particularly plantain and maize, for 2005-2006 under the plantation development programme of President's Special Initiative (PSI).
About 22,901.36 metric tones of maize, valued at ¢34.35 billion and 857,186 metric tones of plantain, valued at ¢193 billion was harvested from 2004-2006, Mr Adjei Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands Forestry and Mines, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony of eight new tractors at the cost of ¢1.28 billion by the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines to the FSD and FC in Accra, Mr Yeboah said the plantation program had contributed to the development of a sustainable forest resources base.
He said this would satisfy future demand for industrial timber and enhancement of environmental qualities.
The programme, which is aimed at maintaining and developing new plantations, as well as managing existing ones shows that a total area of 93,298.50 hectares was planted between 2002 and 2006.
Out of this, the government plantation development program, which is also known as HIPC Plantation, established 23,550 hectares using temporary labour on contract basis, while the modified Tanungya System, a national forest plantation development project, established 69,748.50 hectares using forest fringe communities.
Mr Yeboah said in terms of socio-economic benefits, the program was generating job opportunities and contributing substantially to food production as well as creating wealth to reduce poverty among the rural communities.
He noted that Tanungya farmers produced about 20,000 tons of maize and 8,000 tons of cocoyam among other significant crops.
"I am particularly impressed by the tremendous efforts the FC and, in particular FSD, have made so far to ensure that the project objectives are met even in the face of multiplicity of constraints being brought to the attention of the Ministry," he said.
Mr Yeboah noted that the handing over of the tractors was a clear manifestation of the government's commitment to address the problems facing plantation development.
He said this would also promote sustainable forestry development for environmental quality improvement and poverty alleviation.