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FAO, Government of Ghana signs TCP to Support Sustainable Management of Shea Tree, Park Lands in three Communities in the West Gonja District.

Minister for Land and Natural Resources Hon. Nii Osah Mill and FAO representative to Ghana and Deputy Regional Representative for Africa Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel at the signing ceremony

26 September 2016, Accra - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has signed a Technical Cooperation Project with the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources to increasing the density of Shea trees in agroforestry parkland in three communities in the West Gonja District of the Northern Region of Ghana as well as increase yield.

The three year project will support the ministry with systems for enhancing sustainable management of Shea Parklands and enhance capacities of beneficiary communities in parkland management and techniques with the support of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana to propagate the knowledge and skills of producing early maturing Shea plantations as well as a productive park land.

At a short signing ceremony the FAO representative to Ghana and Deputy Regional Representative Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel observed that the combination of drought, bush fire, population pressure and climate change have increased the shea tree mortality and decreased its regeneration and therefore it has become necessary to manage the shea tree park lands in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner.

The Shea tree is a wild indigenous tree exclusive to Northern Ghana, but has the potential of being managed in controlled parklands.  In the wild, Shea trees reach maturity in about 15-20 years at which point it begins to produce quality nuts and can live up to 200-300 years. However, recent technology indicates the Shea trees can mature within 6 to 12 years. The Shea nut serves as the main source of livelihood for over 900,000 rural women involved in the sector in Northern Ghana.

In recent years the Shea tree has gained importance as an economic crop because of the heavy demand for its butter, both locally and internationally. The global demand for Shea butter is estimated to be 100,000mt/year with growing market demand in Europe and North America.

On his part the minister for Land and Natural resources Hon. Nii Osah Mills noted that even though the project implementation will be limited to only three communities in the West Gonja District it is important that lessons learnt from these areas be scaled up in other areas to ensure that shea resources in such areas are not lost.

The Minister gave the assurance of the ministry’s readiness to facilitate the development of necessary policy framework to ensure the successful implementation of the project.