Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) has announced that the Ministry would establish factories and artisanal mills for processing oil palm to enable farmers to get value for their investments.
He said it would task the Municipal Chief Executives to ensure that the farmers expand their markets and local trading, as well as assist where exports are necessary.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh was addressing a durbar at Dunkwa-On-Offin in the Upper East Denkyira Municipal of the Central Region during the launch of the Oil Palm Plantation Project 2018/2019.
The annual event, which is earmarked to raise oil palm seedlings to farmers from mined-out areas, is to reduce dependence on exhaustible mineral resources, create youth employment, enable parents to cater for their wards in school, reduce illegal mining and above all, raise the living standards of indigenes in mining communities.
“Oil palm plantations as sustainable prosperity intervention in mining communities,” was this year’s theme.
The Minister said though planting for food was not the Ministry’s mandate it was ensuring that mining lands were reclaimed for generations.
He said the Alternative Livelihood – Oil Palm Project is a Public-Private Partnership by MLNR and Richie Plantations Limited and its being implemented to help reduce poverty in an attempt by the Ministry to deal with illegal mining/Galemsey or after close down of large-scale mining companies.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh explained that Ghana prides itself as the leading producer of gold in Africa but said that would only be true when the Country is able to convert the natural resource to fund economic sustainable development projects aimed at creating better lives for those in mining communities.
As a result, the Ministry created the Minerals Development Fund (MDF), which makes provision for the establishment of Mining Community Development Scheme to facilitate growth in mining areas, he said, adding that, it is the MDF which was being used to raise the seedlings.
He said the Project, currently implemented in the Central Region, would soon be expanded to mining communities in the Ashanti, Eastern and Western Regions.
The Minister said, the Project had a central monitoring system to see to the maturity of the seedlings and provide further assistance to the farmers to ensure employment and reap the benefits of the palm plantation such as chaff as raw materials for poultry industry, oil for cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries and palm wine for breweries, among others.
Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Chairman of the Minerals Commission advised the youth to turn to farming, which was more sustainable, healthier and safer compared to illegal mining.
He stressed that his office would see to it that the Mining Companies did the needful to ensure that they contribute to the MDF to sustain and expand the Project.
Madam Esther Happy Edjeani, Board Chair of MDF assured farmers that the Fund would continue to support to create wealth for them, especially, women farmers and the vulnerable.
“We would consider taking steps to form farmer based organisations to strengthen your bargaining power and enhance value for your produce. We would collaborate with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to develop policies and regulations, including a full secretariat to regulate the oil palm production industry,” she added.
Mr Richard Quansah, Chief Executive Officer of Richie Plantations Limited called on traditional leaders to release lands for farmers, more importantly, the youth, to enable them to embark on farming activities, adding that, this year alone about 1.5 million seedlings were raised for the Project.
Mr John Kofi Botwey, a 38-year beneficiary of the Project, who led a team of former illegal miners, urged his colleagues to say no to illegal mining and appealed to government to support them with funds and fertilizers to realize the purpose of the Project.
Also in attendance were Mr Thomas Yaw Adjei Baffoe, the Deputy Minister for the Central Region, Mr Samuel Nsowah Djan, Member of Parliament for Upper Denkyira, religious leaders, Agency Heads, traditional leaders, Municipal and District Chief Executives and other dignitaries.