The Northern Ghana Non-Timber Traditional Forest Product, aimed at primarily developing trees and products that were not in use or under-utilized for timber purposes in the Northern parts of the country, was launched in Tamale on Tuesday.
The project is targeting about 22 communities with 8,000 direct beneficiaries and is being implemented by Tree Aid and supported by SNV, both NGOs with funding from Comic Relief, a UK based Non-Governmental Organization.
The University for Development Studies (UDS) and the University of Brussels of the UK were the collaborating institutions of learning that would offer research and technical advice on the project.
Mr. Tangem Elvis Paul Nfor, Value Chains Development Manager of Tree Aid West Africa, said there were a lot of potentials in the non-timber products in the northern sector and mentioned the shea and the baobab tress as some of the non-timber tress that had both the edible and medicinal value and needed to be promoted.
He said the promotion of such products will enhance their quality through individual and institutional capacity building to support commerce, businesses and the standard of living of the people.
According to Mr. Nfor, the primary commodities of the project which spans three years will be the shea nut and honey while the baobab, tamarind, moringa and neem trees would also be targeted as secondary products that would be enhanced.
He said the project builds on existing local structures to strengthen the value chain linkages through Northern Ghana adding that the capacity of the primary and secondary beneficiaries would be built to link them to markets and other accessibilities.
The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Professor David Millar, said the country had lacked behind in scientific development because it has neglected the endogenous knowledge and expertise and rather embraced Western ideas which were alien and sometimes impracticable in the local context.
He said the knowledge of Ghanaians must be developed instead of being undermined by foreign ideas which sometimes do not have any positive impact in the Ghanaian context.
Prof. Millar urged the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority(SADA) to do something remarkably different from the various development interventions else it was bound to fail just like previous projects saying, “Make good use of the local knowledge taking into consideration the culture of the people”.
Mr. Sam Nasamu Asabigi, Deputy Northern Regional Minister, was grateful for the project’s development saying, it was in line with SADA’s development objectives and assured that the Authority would collaborate with the project to earn its needed advantage.
He said the Shea tree would be piloted on plantation bases in the Region very soon as one of SADA’s projects.