Birim Central Youth Deserting Galamsey Sites

Hundreds of youths in the Birim Central Municipality in the Eastern Region are deserting illegal mining to enter into oil palm farming, a new business which has become more attractive and profitable in the area.

The Anchor is informed that communities in the area, where hitherto illegal mining, otherwise called ‘galamsey,’ flourished briskly, have had the youth all abandoning mining sites to venture into oil palm cultivation, which, they say, is more lucrative and sustainable.

The oil palm plantation business has become attractive in the area, following theimplementation ofthe Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP), under the auspices of the Minerals Commission.

The Municipal Director of Agriculture, Isaac Mann, who disclosed this, said that, since the inception of the project, some 2,678 hectors of oil palm fields have been established.

Per the programme, some 438,000 palm seedlings have freely been supplied to beneficiaries from seven known communities for the cultivation of oil palm since 2020.

The programmeis an intervention designed to provide the youth alternative and sustainable jobs to shift them away from illegal mining.

At least more than 3,000 farmers, especially the youth, in the municipality, have benefited from the programme, with some 6,000 people around the enclave also being provided with indirect jobs.

H69719 Plantation workers prepare to unload freshly harvested oil palm fruit bunches at a collection point.

This was disclosed during an engagement with the Birim Central Municipal Department of Agriculture on its Alternative Livelihood Project initiative, hosted by the Minerals Commission on Tuesday, January 31, in Accra.

The Municipal Assembly delegation, accompanied by the beneficiaries of the initiative from the communities, thanked the government and the commission for such a major programme.

They disclosed thatgalamsey, which has become an albatross around the neck of successive governments, is now curtailed in their communities since the rolling out of the programme.

This claim was corroborated by farmers, including chiefs, drivers, opinion leaders and the  physically challenged, who spoke in a video clip.

At the 2022 Farmer’s Day celebration, a number of the beneficiaries, The Anchor gathered, were adjudged best oil palm farmers.

According to Mr. Mann, the initiative has been very impactful in its short period, as already beneficiaries have begun earning good money from it.

He said that, unlike in the past when the farmers had to travel a long distance to purchase the seedlings, the dynamics has changed.

Now, he disclosed, farmers are served the seedlings at their base without any cost whatsoever.

He said the initiative has the potential to supply raw material to giant companies in the country that manufacture cooking oils, including vegetable oil.

“It also has a linkage even to some of the challenges we are having as a country with the availability of vegetable oil in our country.

So it means that raw material base is being established through this project, which is going to make mills, like Wilmar Ghana, GOPDC, and Juaben Oil Mills, to be sustainable. Sustainable means jobs provision which is also key,” he said.

To sustain the initiative, Mr. Mann said they are looking at constituting these farmers into stronger oil palm community-based groups so that they can hold the bargaining power in dealing with traders and processors for their products.

“We are also looking at international certification for the beneficiaries through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). When they are certified it means they have premium, when they have premium, it means they have more income,” Mr. Mann added.

He said there are plans to roll out the programme in other parts of the region and the country as a whole.

Some of the farmers who joined the delegation of chiefs and officials from the assembly took turns to give account of what their experiences with the programme has been.

The beneficiaries charged government to build refinery machines to turn their produce into finished products. They also called for more seedlings for the area, which has a population of 76, 000.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Martin Ayisi, said the many testimonies and endorsements by the beneficiaries is something they are excited about.

He said that it was fulfilling that after the roll-out of the programme, the target persons are already reaping its benefits and it is instructive that the destruction of the environment, in the name of galamsey, has also been curtailed in this short period.

Mr. Ayisi said the commission will continue to implement policies and programmes for the benefit of the people to keep the land resources away from illegal mining.

AmaHenewaa,a beneficiary who was adjudged the Municipal Assembly’s Best Oil Palm Farmer, last year, advised the youth in the galamsey areas to embrace the programme to reap the benefits.

“They should join in the cultivation of oil palm because it is best. The galamsey is destroying our environment because of the use of mercury,” she said.

In October 2021, President Akufo-Addo launched the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) in Tarkwa in the Western Region.

The initiative is aimed at helping to reduce the hardships persons in mining communities endure as a result of activities of “Operation Halt” in those areas.

NAELP is an intervention spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The programme has six modules, namely National Land Reclamation and Re-Afforestation Programme, Agriculture and Agro-Processing, Apprenticeship, Skills Training and Entrepreneurship, Responsible, Viable and Sustainable Small-Scale Community Mining, Mine Support Services and Community Enhancements Project.

Source: Anchorghana

Related Posts