Government says it is impressed by the success of the Youth in Afforestation programme on the fight against deforestation across the country.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, who gave the commendation, lauded the sterling performance of personnel engaged in the Afforestation programme.
The Deputy Minister, who was on tour of some of the tree planting sites in the Greater Accra Region, said the young men and women working on the afforestation programme were doing so well and setting a new paradigm for afforestation in the country.
“I am very happy to see what has gone on. This shows that with much effort more can be achieved; It also shows that we have not thrown away the funding that we have invested in this particular programme,” Owusu-Bio said.
The Forestry Commission’s tree planting sites in the capital include Tomefa near the Weija Dam, Agbozume in the Ablekuma District, Pantang, West Africa Senior High School and the Achimota forest Eco-Tourism centre.
Out of a total of 26 million seedlings planted over the past one year across the country on about 24,000 hectares of land, the Youth in Afforestation programme personnel alone have planted about 10 million seedlings on 8,000 hectares nationwide.
Mr Owusu-Bio said government will continue to support the programme to ensure future sustainability.
He said funding was key to sustain the programme and noted that those in charge were also making conscious effort to maintain them to ensure that the trees grow.
He urged the personnel not to do just planting, saying if, “you plant and leave it. It will not grow by itself. The tree also needs care. So we have to care for them.”
Government placed 60,000 youth under the Youth in Afforestation programme in June last year on a two-year contract to assist in planting trees to reverse the trends of deforestation.
Ms Esther Oppong-Agyei, the Head Supervisor of the Forest plantation staff at Tomefa, near the Weija Dam, said the personnel were doing all they could to care for the tender trees on the 13 hectares stretch of land to ensure they survived the harsh weather condition during the dry season.
The programme, however, faces the challenge of delays in payments of personnel allowances.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, has assured beneficiaries of the programme that they would be paid their October and November 2018 allowances by Thursday, February 14, 2019.
“We have obtained two sets of allowances. That is a demonstration that the government acknowledges that these people have done extremely well, and that we all want to do is to ensure that they get what is due them,” he said.
‘But we have done extremely well and I am grateful to the Minister for Finance for paying the third tranche of allowances,” he added.