The Minerals Commission is set to distribute over one million palm seedlings to farmers and youth in illegal mining areas of the Eastern Region as part of measures to reduce youth involvement in that activity in the region.
The seedlings, which are to be distributed free of charge is under the Alternative Livelihood Project by the Minerals Commission to offer residents in illegal mining communities a more safer alternative and reliable source of income.
In an interview with Citi Business News during a working visit to the nursery plantation at Akwatiakwaso by board members of the Minerals Commission, the Board Chairman of the Commission, who was impressed with the progress of work, called on farmers and the youth to embrace agriculture.
“This project is the Alternative Livelihood Project (ALP) and it is precisely why we are here to let the guys in the mining areas know that they have a bright future in agriculture. Let’s be honest with ourselves, the boys who were into gold business are now poor because the money is gone and when you mine illegally you will never make money out of it but when it is done legally with proper documentation and certification with technology the sky will be the limit so there is this alternative for those without the knowhow to come and benefit from this project”.
“How long does it take when you want to plant tomatoes, this is agriculture, and food is what we are talking about. Now you all know how Kontomire has become valuable in this Covid season and government is encouraging everyone to patronize local foods because of this pandemic which has opened us to reality”.
The CEO of Richie Plantations Limited, Richard Ekow Quansah, said beneficiaries of the seedlings have an advantage to go into intercroping and add other food items as the company is working to provide them with ready market.
“Beneficiaries of this palm project can also do inter cropping by adding maize, beans which takes 3 months. So as you are waiting for your 3 years for your palm to come, you still have something to depend on to the time that your palm will fruit so the alternative livelihood project is very important. Farming is a good venture, and I always use myself as an example because when I came to Ghana in 2005, I used Ghc 1,000 to start a green pepper plantation in the dry season and I had Ghc 30,000 which I used to establish myself”.
“We are encouraging the community to also come on board and get into agriculture and we will find a warehouse for them and even buy produce from them. The key point in farming is ready market and we are finding a strategy for them to get them market”.