The government has taken 60 percent of illegal miners out of the menace, through the Alternative Livelihood Project.
The project, which started in 2017, supply free palm seedlings to illegal miners and some farmers for planting.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Kwaku Asomah Cheremeh, made the point at the launch of the 2019 lifting of over one million seedlings in Dunkwa.
The alternative livelihood project seeks to raise oil palm seedlings for farmers from mined-out communities. 'It is also to reduce illegal mining by assisting landowners to put their lands into good use other than alluvial or illegal mining and create jobs for the youth while enabling parents to cater for their wards through school,' Mr. Cheremeh stated.
According to him, the initiative was consistent with section(5) (c) of the Minerals Development Act, (Act 912, 2016) which provides for the use of funds to promote local development and alternative livelihood development projects in communities affected by mining activities.
The Chairperson for the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Board, Madam Esther Edjeani said the Board would begin discussions with companies in the mining communities, Pharmaceutical industries and the breweries to expand the scope of market for oil palm.
She added, however, that in the interim, the Board would consider the formation of farmer-based organisations and give them value for their produce, as well as collaborate with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to develop policies for the oil palm industry.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Richie Plantation Limited, the firm that nurtures palm seedlings, Mr. Richard Quansah, noted that from 2020 to 2023, the company would set up millers to process the palm kernel in order to get more value for the produce.
The challenge the firm faces, he said, was access to land as most of the youth did not have lands to plant the seedlings. He, therefore, urged the government to help acquire land to expand the project.
To prevent the youth from abandoning the project and go back into illegal mining, Richie Plantation provides accommodation for them and pay their social security to encourage them to stay in their farms.
A beneficiary of the project, who was an illegal miner, Mr. John Botwe attested that the project had shaped his life and he was now making good earnings with good security for his life as compared to the illegal mining where he risked his life.
He appealed to the government to expand the project so that more young people who were involved in illegal mining would stop the menace.
Mr. Botwe also called on all the youth involved in illegal mining to stop and embrace the Alternative Livelihood Project as it would improve their standard of living and prevent them from the dangers associated with illegal mining.