More than 2.6million seedlings of various trees have so far been planted under the National Plantation Development Project in the Upper West Region.
The project, launched in the Ashanti Region by President Mills last year, formed part of the government’s initiative which is to restore degraded forest reserves in the country.
One hundred and seventy communities from the nine districts of the region have planted the seedlings on 2,239hectares of land.
The Executive director of the Forestry Services Division Mr. Raphael Yeboah after visiting parts of the project said addition to its core objectives the project had created jobs for over 2,500 youths in the region.
He said the project which was dear to the President must be sustained to achieved its objective of creating 100,000 jobs in the country.
Already plans have been put in place to re-organize the whole project to avoid the challenges encountered during its implementation last year.
Mr. Yeaboah said though the target for last year was to cultivate 30,000 hectares across the country, only 20,200 hectares had been planted as a result of some of the challenges encountered.
He said funding and bushfires across the country constituted the most pressing challenges that confronted the project measures had been put in place to overcome them.
Mr. Yeboah explained that inspite of the challenges more than 28,000 people had been employed throughout the country and plans are advanced to expand the project to employ about 50,000 people this year.
Mr. Yeboah said it was important that all stakeholders support the project to ensure its success adding “Apart from restoring degraded areas of forest reserves in the country, it is also to reduce the wood deficit in the country as well as generate employment as a means of reducing rural poverty.”
He said in addition to this it was also to increase the production of food crops and thereby improve on food security in the country.
He explained that the project would be expended to include areas outside forest reserves.
Mr. Yeboah said the tress selected for planting were for strategic reasons and this included Mahogany, Cassia Sammie and teak in addition to food trees like Moringa, Dawadawa, Grafted Mangoes, Citrus, Cashew and Shea.
He said the country could restore its forest stock within the next 10 to 15 years if the project was sustained and well coordinated.