Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Tuesday said government had embraced the Draft National Implementation Plan for the joint framework for Action under the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.
He said government has adopted the initiative as part of strategies to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, which was a major concern in the country.
The Deputy Minister said the Joint Framework of Action was structured around three themes – forest protection and restoration; sustainable production and farmers’ livelihoods; and community engagement and social inclusion.
Mr Owusu-Bio stated this at the on-going forum in Accra to review the joint framework and prepare for the next steps in the implementation of the document to collectively halt deforestation and forest degradation related to the cocoa value chain.
The forum brought together participants from the International Sustainability Unit, the Sustainability Trade Initiative, and the World Foundation, Partnerships for Forest, the Cocoa Board, the private sector and Farmers.
He said government was implementing the Multi-Lateral Mining Integrated Project to halt illegal mining activities, and the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Ghana and the European Union to eliminate trade of illegal wood.
Mr Owusu-Bio noted that government is introducing the Climate Smart Cocoa production, an initiative to encouraged farmers by planting improved seeds and increase the number of forest trees per hectare of cocoa farm.
He assured participants of government commitment to a successful implementation of the initiative, urging them to take into account the existing commitments to ensure that there are synergies between the various interventions and no duplication of efforts.
Mr Paul Macek, the Vice President in charge of programmes of World Cocoa Foundation said half of the world’s tropical forests have been lost over the past 50 years, adding that a small number of agricultural commodities have been primary drivers of deforestation such as oil palm, soy and timber.
Mr Macek said the commitment of the stakeholders on the implementation plan, would be supported by an up-to-date maps on forest cover, and land-use for these areas, socio-economic data on cocoa farmers and communities in these areas.
He stressed that the framework would also be supported by a public sector law enforcement and governance; including awareness raising campaigns, capacity building of forest institutions, and community policing.