An initiative to plant 10 million Shea trees over the course of the next 10 years, to replace felled and aged trees, has been unveilled at the 2020 edition of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) stakeholder’s forum.
The event was held in Tamale and sought to highlight primary causes of the depletion for Shea trees, as well as discuss long-term and actionable solutions to curb the menace.
The project is in collaboration with Action for Shea Parklands (AFP), andseeks to achieve the set goals by planting, protecting and promoting Shea parklands across West Africa. To this end, some 34,000 seedlings were planted to replace the aged economic Shea trees.
This was largely informed by a study conducted by the GSA that revealed the trees’ economic value, as Ghana earns in excess of US$32million annually from the exportation of Shea products.
Speaking at the ceremony, District Chief Executive for North Gonja, Adam Eliasu – representing the Savanna Region Minister, Adam Salifu Braimah – bemoaned the continuous felling of economic Shea trees, describing this as illegal since it is detrimental to the environment and adversely impacts economic activities of rural women farmers.
A senior Research Scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute (CRI), Dr. Julius Yeboah, said the unit has conducted a study into the gestation period of commercial Shea trees to promote more resilient varieties.
“In our interactions with farmers and women groups, the lengthy growth period of about 15 years has discouraged many from investing in the sector. Through our extensive research, we have been able to reduce the gestation period to as low as three years with different approaches,” he said.
He added that the institute has also adopted grafting and rooted cuttings as means of helping the plants grow, also revealing that the institute has begun training young persons on Parkland development to increase the Shea tree population and protect existing ones.
Also present at the event was Gender, Youth and Communication specialist at MEDA-Ghana ‘Farmers’ Economic Advancement Through Seedlings’ (FEATS) project Elikplim Dzrekey, who said over 200 women under MEDA’s partnership have been trained in ways to protect and rejuvenate Shea parklands; adding that the organisation is also committed empowering the women to access the Shea nuts.
On his part, Managing Director for GSA Aaron Adu said the project aims at ensuring protection of natural resources for economic growth and job creation. He added that the forum will be held in five other countries within the West African sub-region to sensitise value chain actors on actions to be taken in planting, growing and protecting the existing stock of trees.