Some 280 farmers have been trained by the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry in a special livelihood enterprise programme in the former Brong Ahafo region.
The farmers, drawn from selected forest communities such as Susuanho, Yamfo, Bomaa, Bechem, Adentia, and Kwetire were trained in beekeeping. They also received logistics to help them begin the journey of developing what is expected to be a vibrant honey production enterprise.
The Project is under the theme; Reducing Pressure on our forest through Alternative Livelihood schemes.
The initiative under the Ghana Forest Investment Programme is funded by the Climate Investment Fund and the African Development Bank.
The “Engaging Local Communities In REDD+ (ELCIR+) Project” scheme, scattered across the country is aimed at fighting climate change by reducing the pressure on the natural forests while safeguarding the people who depend mostly on the forest for food, water, and energy.
At a short ceremony to deliver the logistics to the beneficiaries at Sunyani in the Bono Region and Bechem in the Ahafo Region, the Deputy Lands Minister, Benito Owusu-Bio said, government is determined in implementing policies that ensure the integrity of the forest is protected.
"Government desires that farmers in the forest zones of the country are not worse off as they roll out policies to sustainably manage the natural resources for quality environmental services, social-economic development, and poverty reduction,” he said.
Each apiculture beneficiary received a start-Up Pack including Beehive, Bee suit, a pair of Bee jacket, pair of hand glove, hive tool, Bee brushes, stainless Bee smoker, protective boots, propolis collector, Bee stand and torchlight.
Already, the Ministry has trained 90 farmers in the Atebubu enclave and supplied them with the same start-up materials.
“I must commend the approach of allowing you the beneficiaries to select your preferred livelihood option and I believe this will foster a sense of ownership and will invigorate you to sustain these enterprises for good”, the minister noted.
Charles Agyei, an officer of the Ghana Forestry Commission, Resource Management Support System and a facilitator for the Beekeeping enterprise is confident the venture will generate enough revenue to ease the pressure on the forest.
He said, aside from the health benefits of honey, apiculture enterprise also comes with other benefits such as cross-pollination, maintains biodiversity, production of wax and creation of jobs for artisans who produce the logistics.
Speaking to Joy News, Enoch Obiri Yeboah, a farmer at Susuanho, near Bechem in the Tano North District said they embrace the initiative which will not only assure them of livelihood to cater for their families but will also check the degradation of the forest.
He, however, appealed to the government to support them financially as they hope to expand and a favourable market to sell their produce.
Mushroom rearing, Soap making, and Efficient Charcoal production are the remaining alternative enterprises selected by beneficiaries across the Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Western and Western North regions.
To make the selected alternative livelihoods vibrant, profitable and sustainable, the Ministry with the African Development Bank is to facilitate and organize beneficiaries into Business Cooperatives.
With a collective bargaining power, they can influence the market and be linked to other government agencies that can offer them support.