The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor has underscored the need for urgent action to reverse the alarming rate of deforestation and forest degradation. 

He stated that despite the several benefits derived from the forest, the exploitation of these resources for national development had not been sustainable over the years.

“Perhaps, deforestation and forest degradation, is the greatest threat to sustainable natural resource management today and this has dire consequences on agricultural productivity, food security, poverty alleviation, protection of water bodies, rainfall patterns and droughts and severe impacts of climate change on the environment,” Mr Jinapor said on Thursday.

The Minister said this in a speech read on his behalf at the Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers (GhaFFaP) Second National Dialogue and outdooring of the GhaFFaP agenda 2030 Strategy in Accra.

The dialogue was themed: “Smallholder Forest and Farm Producers – Key Agents for Delivering Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of Green Recovery”.

Its aim is to further develop its strategies for building synergies towards achieving the SDGs in Ghana, highlighting the role of smallholder forest and farm producers in the context of a green recovery.

Participants were drawn from key stakeholders such as the representatives from the Government, the United Nation’s Resident Coordinator’s Office, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), other UN agencies and private sector actors.

Mr Jinapor said forest and wildlife resources had long been major contributors to Ghana’s socio-economic development, providing formal and informal employment, livelihoods, export earnings and environmental benefits such as watershed protection, ecotourism, temperature regulation and mitigation of climate change impacts.

“For instance, more than 85 per cent of the Ghanian population depend on forest resources for subsistence and to satisfy their socio-cultural needs.”

Head of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Mr Charles Ayaaba in his presentation, noted that a study conducted on the impact of Covid-19 and flooding on GhaFFaP members indicated that Covid-19 impacted negatively on food production in 2020.

He said the impact was in the area of high input cost due to a ban on the shipment of agro-inputs and farm machinery.

“The high cost of food prices and the shortage of legumes and cereals in 2021 is partly due to the impact of COVID-19 and partly due to flooding in 2020,” he said.

He suggested that to improve food production in 2021, the Government should provide more input subsidy to farmers to cushion them against the impact of Covid-19.

He said studies had shown that the principal drivers of deforestation and forest degradation were agriculture expansion (50 per cent), wood harvesting (35 per cent), population and development pressure (10 per cent) and mining and mineral exploration (five per cent).

“It is, therefore, gratifying that GhaFFaP has taken a bold initiative to develop GhaFFaP Agenda 2030 Strategy to complement existing efforts by Government to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and also the attainment of the SDGs,” he said.

He lauded the development partners for their continuous support to the environment and natural resources sector.

The GhaFFaP is a national federation of Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs) drawn from three ecological zones of Ghana – Savanah, Transition and Forest Ecological Zones – for promoting the interest of forest and farm produce in Ghana.

GhaFFaP currently has a membership of more than one million, representing 12 FFPOs and is open to all forest and farm producer organizations in the country that share in its objectives.

The current membership is made up of 478,623 women (46 per cent) and 564,157 men (54 per cent) respectively, of which 208,291 (20 per cent) are youth forest and farm producers.