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The National Launch of the Implementation Plan for the Cocoa and Forest initiative was held at Moovenpick Hotel in Accra.

Hon. John Peter Amewu who is the current Minister for Lands and Natural Resources emphasized in speech that, "Cocoa and forests are two important sectors of Ghana's economy. Cocoa is the second largest foreign exchange earner for Ghana after Gold while timber is the fifth after oil and tourism. Therefore, any initiatives to promote cocoa and forest resources are of great info to Ghana's development agenda ".

Further more, "In spite of the numerous benefits we derive from the forest, Ghana's timber and non-timber forest resources are being overexploited and continue to decline in both quantity and quality.

The major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Ghana are as a result of agriculture activities, largely due to expansion of cocoa farms in cocoa growing regions. Studies have shown that 50 percent of deforestation in Ghana is due to agriculture while the other 50 percent is attributable to high levels of illegal logging, chainsaw and mining activities, annual wildfires, population pressure and weak law enforcement".

As the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, Ghana was excited to be part of the intervention initiated by the prince of Wales international Sustainability unit, the World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and multi-national chocolate producing companies to work in partnership towards reducing the rate of deforestation emanating from cocoa production. In view of these, Ghana has the opportunity to participate in a number of discussions with other stakeholders, which culminated in the development of a joint Framework for Action that was signed in November 2017 in Bonn, Germany during COP 23.

As presented earlier by the Technical Director of Forestry, the joint Framework for Action had three thematic areas and a number of core commitments to be  respected by all signatories of the Framework".

Again, various interventions have been undertaken in the past to address deforestation in cocoa and forest landscapes, but the results of these interventions have not been desirable. The Cocoa and Forest initiative is therefore an additional strategic intervention considering that agriculture occupies large part of the landscape ".

According to him Ghanaians are lucky that the private sector is committed to support this process and we are hopeful that we will succeed in our  efforts this time round. This implementation plan is a Blue print to guide all efforts in halting deforestation in the Cocoa and forest landscape and we invite all actors to buy into this process".

In addition, "the Ministry Of Land and Natural Resources will try to raise funds through the central government to support the implementation of the plan. We wish to appeal to the private sector and our development partners  to invest adequate resources in this plan to improve the forest ecology and livelihoods of the farmers ".

Source | | Kofi Dwumah

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