An amount of ¢28.9. billion has been spent on an afforestation project in the Eastern Region. The amount, which is part of a total sum of ¢167 billion released by the Ministry of Forestry Lands and Mines under the HIPC fund, forms part of the National Plantation Development Programme.
According to the sector Minister, Prof. Dominic Fobih, 13,299 direct jobs have been created out of the 24,075 hectares cultivated so far.
Additionally, the project has produced over 15,000 tonnes of food crops since its inception in 2003.
The Minister was in Koforidua to hand over the supervision and management aspect of the Urban Forestry component of the programme to district assemblies in the Eastern Region.
The Ministry would however continue to fund the cost of maintaining the project until an alternative arrangement is reached with the district assemblies.
The national coordinator of the programme, Nana Yaw Osei Barimah, accompanied him and they took the opportunity to inspect some of the project sites and those along avenues in the New Juaben Municipality.
Prof. Dominc Fobih explained that the purpose of handing over the project to the district assemblies was enable the Forestry Commission offload the operations of the project to focus on plantation activities in forest reserves.
"After managing the programme for three years, the ministry is convinced that the right approach to plantation establishment and its management has been established", he said.
For his part, the New Juaben Municipal Chief Executive, Nana Adjei Boateng, praised the sector ministry for initiating "such a laudable project which has resulted jobs for the unemployed," adding that the assembly would explore possibilities of expanding the project.
About 400 hectares of tree plantations have been planted in six districts in the Eastern Region with a total workforce of 269.
The objectives of the project are to restore forest cover in degraded forest reserves, create jobs for unemployed youth in the urban and rural communities as well as provide alternative source of livelihood for farmers in forest fringed communities.