Ghana Statistical Service reports indicate that average rural Ghanaian households earn less than the national average. Agriculture is the main occupation in the Ghanaian rural communities. The low market value of traditional crops and crops failure from poor soil fertility and erratic rainfall patterns have all made subsistence agriculture unsustainable. Farmers find that forest trees, generate significant income, serve as sources of employment and provide environmental benefits. However, farmers lack initial financial capital and entrepreneurial skills to engage in production and marketing of forest trees. This situation is widely contributing to poverty and urban migration of youth.
In response to the demand of the rural communities to diversify their livelihood, generate income and support biodiversity conservation, this pilot project is supporting community-managed nursery production and marketing in Traa community located in the Techiman Municipality of Ghana.
Forest without Borders, Canada is supporting the community to raise approximately 25,000 Mahogany (Khaya ivorensis) and 25,000 Large Limba (Terminalia superba) seedlings for sale and planting on local people’s farmlands. These species are the most desirable to the local people because the species have a high market value.
Furthermore, Community land and traditional ownership of trees limits the benefits to individuals. This has resulted in the widespread removal of natural vegetation and valuable tree species on communal/individual lands across Ghana. One solution is to allow local people to register native trees that they plant so that they gain ownership of the tree and makes it valuable to them. The government of Ghana is implementing land and tree tenure reform. Local people must register their lands and trees on their farmlands with the government to guarantee their ownership.
This project is supporting local people in Traa community to survey and register their farmlands with the government of Ghana. The planted trees on their community/private owned lands that they farm will then be owned by individuals. This initiative will result in individuals protecting these trees as the value from the tree accrues to the owner and his/her heirs.
Revenue Generation for the Community
The project is expected to bring solutions to some of the socio-economic and environmental problems in Traa community. There is a high market-value and demand for the nursery stocks, especially for the indigenous plants and medicinal plants/herbs species. The community is expected to generate money from the nursery sales. Government of Ghana is promoting a national plantation development programme. The community will sell the nursery stocks to the national plantation development programme and other private and industrial plantation developers.
Furthermore, the trees will be planted on the local farmlands. Integrating trees with food crops can have several benefits including; improving soil fertility, provisioning of fuelwood and medicinal herbs, and sequestering atmospheric carbon thereby contributing to the global climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Youth Training and Entrepreneurial Skill Development
Youth unemployment and out migration to find non-existing jobs in cities is a major problem in the community. The nursery project will engage the local youth. Through series of hand-on workshops and training, the project will provide entrepreneurial skills to the local youth in commercial nursery developing (including: seed collection and treatment, grafting, planting and disease control); business methods (business set up, marketing and financing); alternative livelihood activities (bee keeping) and leadership skills. These will offer employable skills and prevent out migration.
Landscape Restoration and Tree Tenure
The landscape restoration and tree tenure project is a scaling-up of a successful implementation of sacred forests mapping project in Ghana. The success of the sacred forests mapping project was based on a functional collaboration between the project partners and the active participation of the local communities. The landscape restoration and tree tenure project focuses on nursery development as an alternative livelihood and diversification of rural economy for the local people in Traa community, and this will provide solutions to socio-economic and environmental problems within the area.