Farmers in Ashanti and Ahafo Regions who are engaged in tree plantation and other afforestation initiatives are improving their incomes.
Cultivation and sale of non-timber forest products provide alternative livelihood under the Food and Business Applied Research Fund of the Netherlands.
Black pepper, grains of paradise and honey are some of the produce from the plantation.
Experts say the cultivation and sale of non-timber forest products is a poverty reduction and livelihood improvement tool in rural areas.
The Forestry Commission, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, University of Amsterdam and Rural Development Youth Association (RUDEYA) are among partners.
Under the Modified Taungya System, a co-managed by Forestry Commission and smallholder farmers, it was rolled out two years ago.
Besides restoring the degraded forest, it is targeted to address Ghana’s timber deficit.
Farmers told a learning platform meeting with researchers at Nyinahin in the Atwima Mponua district the project is impacting positively in their lives.
"Beekeeping is very lucrative. The more boxes you have, the more money you get. It pays better than even cocoa. A quarter of a plastic bucket fetches ¢600 compared to ¢450 per bag of cocoa. Honey production is so lucrative," says Yaw Ntim, a farmer at Dadieso near Goaso.
For Adwoa Koh, a farmer at Akwabraso in the Atwima Mponua district who cultivates black pepper, she has since been busy with the sales of the products on the market which also provide her with an alternative livelihood.
"A few years ago I was introduced to black pepper cultivation which has also helped me a lot. I never run out of stock; always in the market to sell. Sale of black pepper gives me additional income to cocoa".
Manager at Plantations Department of Forestry Commission, Valerie Fumey Nassah is happy about the gains so far since it
"There is a gap between harvesting the food crops and then waiting till the trees mature is so wide that the farmers need something to motivate them to continue going into the forest and helping to protect the forest and also benefiting from it".
Cultivation of non-forest timber plants is seen as an alternative to give reprieve to farmers as they wait for the maturity of tree plantations.
"Black pepper, and grains of paradise and even beekeeping; through this project, we have realized that it is possible to do this under a canopy," says Mrs Fummey Nassah.
Despite the progress, there are concerns among farmers about marketing.
Mrs Nassah says Forestry Commission, supported by University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani, has researched into local and foreign market potentials of non-timber products.
According to her, there is a market for the products both locally and abroad.
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