The government of Switzerland is offering assistance to Ghanaian farmers to engage in the sustainable production and trade of the very useful plant species known as Allanblackia.
The tree is known locally as sonkyi or kusiadwe. It grows naturally in forests and to some extent on farms and adjoining areas especially in the Western, Central, Ashanti and Eastern Regions. Its commercial potential has recently been discovered by Unilever and other interested commercial actors.
Traditionally oil derived from Allanblackia seed is used for cooking, preparing medicines and making soap. Allanblackia oil is considered as a substitute to palm oil in the manufacture of margarine, cosmetics and soap. It can also be used in preparing ice-cream, coatings, cake and cookie baking and spreads.
The project is a public-private partnership worth $ 6 million with the Swiss government contributing $ 1.9 million.
The Swiss government is providing the support through the International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A press release from the Swiss Embassy in Ghana copied to ghanabusinessnews.com says the project is supporting the development of sustainable value chains through the elaboration of standards for the Allanblackia tree.
Current global demand for Allanblackia stands at about 40’000MT per year, Allanblackia collection has become lucrative as there is market offered by multinationals like Unilever for seeds. This project will improve livelihoods and reduce poverty since mostly women have been collecting Allanblackia seeds
Over the past four years, supply chains based on wild harvesting of Allanblackia have been established in Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria. At present production levels, approximately 10,000 small-scale farmers and collectors earn a total of about US$ 250,000 per year for two months of occasional work in the off-season. It is expected that increasing financial benefit from Allanblackia would motivate farmers and communities to protect the tree. One of the project’s aim is to promote the planting of new Allanblackia trees on farms and also for rehabilitation of degraded landscape contributing to environmental conservation.
Good practices guidelines which have been developed during the first phase of the project are a key reference for the elaboration of standards that would promote sustainable production and trade of Allanblackia and faciliate market access through an open multi-stakeholder platform in cooperation with the Union for Ethical Bio Trade (UEBT) – a Geneva based non-profit organization promoting conservation of biodiversity, respect traditional knowledge and equitable sharing of benefits along the supply chain, the release said.
Other partners contributing to the project are: Unilever, The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), SNV, IUCN and a number of governmental agencies and CSOs in Africa. The project is managed by IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which is implementing through key partners: Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, the Institute of Cultural Affairs, Technoserve, Union for Ethical Bio Trade and Unilever.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi