A baseline study on indigenous fruits utilization in the northern savannah ecological zone of Ghana shows that the fruits of about 26 indigenous tree species are used by the locals for varied reasons such as medicinal, fruit and cosmetics. All the identified fruits are sold and/or eaten in the raw state except
Botanical names of fruits
Tamarindus indica, Vitellaria paradoxa, Parkia biglobosa and Adansonia digitata which are processed into secondary products. Some of the species including Vitelaria paradoxa,Parkia bigobosa, Adansonia digitata, Lanea acida, Deterium macrocarpum, Gardenia erubescens and Tamarindus indica are found to be threatened as a result of perennial fires and charcoal burning vis-a vis the erratic natural regeneration patterns of the species.
Calls for value addition and packaging indigenous fruits
The general attitudes of the locals towards the protection of fruit trees on communal and family lands, as well as patronage of fruit trees planting need much to be desired. To ensure sustainability of these indigenous fruits sector, there have been calls on the need for value addition and packaging of more indigenous fruits in the northern savannah zone of Ghana.
Government and Tree Aid Response to the calls
The government realizing the need to strengthen and sustain the production base for non-traditional exports, launched the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) in 1983 to broadening the range of products exported to increase the country’s foreign exchange earnings and reduce the risks associated with an economy based on one major export crop. In line with the objective of this programme, TREE AID a nongovernmental organization formed in 1987 by group foresters, working in the dry lands of Africa helping rural poor to unlock the potentials of trees to reduce poverty and protect the environment. With the head quarters in Bristol UK, TREE AID has operations in Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Ethiopia. In an exclusive interview on the sideline of the launch of Action Aid COVID 19 response package at Zebilla in the Bawku West District, the country Manager of Tree Aid Ghana, Jonathan Anechan Naaba, stated that, in Ghana, TREE AID in working in the five regions of the north.
The operations of TREE AID includes: Forest governance where community people jointly establish their forest, manage it share the benefits amicably; natural resources management and agroforestry where existing trees are protected, new trees planted, farmers growing trees intersperse with the annual crops, protection of water bodies especially rivers for their socio-ecological functions and general restoration and land degradation neutrality.
Others are village tree enterprise and trade where community people especially women are provided with the necessary capacity building tools and equipment to identify some indigenous tree species, harvest non timber forest products (NTFPs) process them and sell with business approach; tree based food and nutrition security largely promoting consumption of tree based good.
He indicated that, the Organization has been supporting groups of community members with the necessary capacity building in terms of forest governance to establish, manage and harvest tree fruits from their own forest. He added that they work together with communities to take up natural resource management and agro- forestry practices to restore degrade land as well protect existing trees; while harvesting water resources in order to protect water bodies from drying out.
Tree Aid’s Economic Empowerment of women through Economic Trees and Impact
Mr. Naaba stated that, some women in the various communities have been organized under ‘Women Tree Enterprise groups’ and equipped with capacity building as well as equipment to identify some indigenous trees species, harvest their fruits and process them in to useful forms” He added that the Organization then link them up to ready market in order to generate some form of income to boost their economic circumstances. He intimated that source of employment is sustainable compared with yields from crop farming that keep dwindling owing to the erratic rainfall and draught experienced in Northern Ghana.
TREE AID promotes food and nutrition security of communities, by establishing tree nutrition gardens where fresh tree vegetables such as Baobab and Maringa are grown all year round to harvest fruits, seeds, nuts and leaves for consumption. Women use egg vegetables for house hold consumption and sell some in open markets and also targets school feeding program hotels, food vendors etc. As part of the save environment approach, TREE AID promotes the use of energy efficient stoves to reduce fuel wood use, reduce carbon emissions. The organisation also supports communities to establish community woodlots for an agreed and sustainable use.
TREE AID Ghana have provided warehouses (7) and full set 9 Shea processing machines to communities across five regions of northern Ghana. TREE AID is supporting cashew farmers to increase yields of cashew farms, women and the youth to venture into cashew farming, perform cashew – legume, mainstream bee keeping into cashew farming and also collect cashew apples and either it fresh and or process it in to cashew apple beverage, jam and khebabs
By: Akayeti Emmenuel