Mr John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources on Thursday expressed government’s commitment to institute measures to reverse the ascendancy of forest degradation to ensure sustainable cocoa production.
He said the Government would adopt holistic and multifaceted approaches in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to reduce the rate of deforestation.
The Minister mentioned some measures as the promotion of sustainable mining and reclamation of degraded mined-out landscapes, policy reviews, promotion of the use of legal timber among other things to regain the forest cover.
Mr Amewu gave the assurance at the First Roundtable Conference on Cocoa and Forests Initiatives being facilitated by the World Cocoa Foundation and IDH in Accra.
The objective of the conference was to solicit stakeholders inputs into a Framework of Action to reverse environmental degradation and restore the forest cover as well as ensuring sustainable cocoa production.
The Minister of Lands noted that major private and public sector players had pledged to present a joint framework of Action to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa sector for Ghana and Cote d’lvoire.
The framework of Action, he said, would be presented at the Climate Change Conference of Parties 23 (COP 23) in Bonn in November this year
The commitment to reversing deforestation stemmed from the recent declaration made by the major players in the cocoa industry in collaboration with the governments of the two countries convened by the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit, World Cocoa Foundation and IDH as well as 12 global front-running companies that signed a collective statement of intent to commit to working together to end cocoa-related deforestation, he said.
According to him, the framework would be developed and approved by private and public sector actors, producers and civil society organisations, which would be a guide for other cocoa-producing countries across the globe to adopt the same approach to their own context and realities.
Mr Amewu noted that it required innovative techniques and approaches to reverse forest lost adding that countries that continued to sit on the fence or procrastinate in taking action would have themselves to blame.
“In the light of this, it is pertinent for us to make conscious efforts to change the face of agriculture, especially the cocoa sector dominated by forestland converted to arable farming in the country.
“I see the imitative as complementary and I strongly believe that it will enhance existing policies, programmes and projects of government that seek to reduce forest and degradation, “he explained.
The Minister said cocoa was the backbone of the country’s economy and raked in high revenue to the State and government would therefore resist unsustainable practices would affect the income of the country.
He said there was the need to ensure that cocoa farmers used sustainable environmental practices that protected the forest.
He said his Ministry would continue to support plantation, agro forestry and work to ensure that those who helped in nurturing them got direct benefits.