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Opinions of Saturday, 1 November 2014

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

The Asante Akyem South District Assembly's Wealth-Creating Bamboo Project

By Kofi Thompson

A bamboo products incubator project initiated by the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the Rural Enterprises Project (REP), is a shining example of rural wealth-creation, which alleviates rural poverty.

It is a low-carbon sustainable development model, which could create thousands of jobs throughout rural Ghana, if adopted in areas of the Ghanaian countryside, where bamboo grows.

The local government and rural development ministry's ministerial team, ought to recommend it to other District Assemblies - particularly in parts of rural Ghana plagued by the twin evils of illegal logging and illegal gold mining.

There ought to be a conscious effort to encourage the youth in such areas to form cooperatives to develop bamboo plantations - on land made available to them by Chiefs - by making long-term credit available to them at low rates of interest.

Such initiatives ought to be funded by the Youth Enterprise Support Secretariat (YES). Factories in the bamboo products incubator, will provide a ready market for bamboo growers, for whom they will be providers of raw materials in the value chain.

The manufacture of bamboo products could help boost Ghana's export trade. The production of toothpicks, for example, will save the hard currency currently used in their importation - and when exported to neighbouring countries, earn hard currency for our nation.

This is an initiative that will help reduce illegal logging in the area. There is huge demand for bamboo as scaffolding in the building industry - which in the past used timber for that purpose. The furniture trade could also substitute bamboo for timber. And boards could aso be produced from bamboo.

Were the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the REP to collaborate with the Ghana Green Building Council, extensive use of bamboo could be promoted in the green building sector, of Ghana's construction industry. And because it is a substitute for many timber products, bamboo plantations could qualify as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) projects.

For that reason, perhaps the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the REP ought to consider approaching the Norwegian and German embassies, with a view to discussing the possibility of getting REDD+ payments from Norway and Germany, for all the bamboo plantations that are established by youth cooperatives in the district.

If they succeed in getting an agreement for REDD+ payments from Norway and Germany, the bamboo project initiated by the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the REP, would have set a shining example of wealth-creation that uses a low carbon, sustainable development model, for other District Assemblies in Ghana to emulate. They definitely ought to be commended by all patriotic Ghanaians.