A day’s event to kick-start the ceremonial planting of the first grafted shea seedlings across the savannah ecological zone has been held at the Northern Airforce Base Command in Tamale.
The exercise, which began with 1,000 shea seedlings at the Base, formed part of the Ghana Shea Landscape Emission Reductions Project being implemented by Global Shea Alliance, an NGO, in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding support from the Green Climate Fund.The seven year-long project seeks to respond to the threat to the shea industry as well as enhance climate resilience in the areas.
Unlike the conventional shea tree, which takes 15 to 20 years to mature, the grafted shea trees will only take five to nine years to mature with very high resistance to pests and disease.
Mr. Aaron Adu, Managing Director of Global Shea Alliance, addressing stakeholders during the event, said the initiative was the first of its kind across West Africa, especially areas where the shea trees grew.
He said the project had so far supervised the establishment of 43 shea nurseries under component two and had also ported 1.6 million shea seeds from the seedlings developed in 2022.
He said the project had also planted 71,000 non-shea trees and grafted about 25,000 shea trees across the zone.
Mr. Adu said, “In 2024, we hope to graft one million seedlings and transplant them across the areas.”
He said, “By the end of the project, we hope to graft and plant 3.5 million shea trees and 500,000 non-shea trees.”
Dr Angela Lusigi, the Country Representative of the UNDP, said the partnership marked a significant milestone in the use of research, science and technology to building resilient communities and expanding sustainable livelihoods.
She noted that the total forest cover in the north declined by 77 per cent between 2001 to 2015, which resulted in the emissions of 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, adding that advances in science and technology were critical to transforming the landscape of the country.
She said, “It is our hope that this project will become a major steppingstone to helping Ghana become a major global player in the supply of shea and other related products with women driving the trade.”
Mr. John Allotey, the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, said the project symbolised hope, resilience, transformation and the embodiment of government’s commitment to preserving natural resources whilst improving the livelihoods of communities and mitigating the effects of climate change.
He called on the various stakeholders in the shea value chain to support the project to help preserve land and other water bodies.
Air Commodore Joshua Mensah-Larkai of the Northern Airforce Base Command, reiterated the importance of shea trees in the socio-economic development of the northern sector, saying it would help minimise poverty, deprivation and hunger in the communities.He expressed the willingness of the command to protect the trees to ensure that the purpose of the project was achieved.