The Zuuri Organic Vegetable Farmers Association (ZOVFA) in the Upper East Region has called on government to pay more attention to the cultivation, processing and marketing of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs).
Agricultural products such as shea, honey and bee wax, straw baskets, baobab, Tamarind fruit, Moringa and Dawadawa, are a big potential source of rural livelihood but largely remained untapped in the three regions of the north compared with other sectors of agriculture, the group said.
The group, made up of 1,800 members across six districts in the region, Garu- Tempani, Binduri, Talensi, Nabdam, Bongo districts and the Bolgatanga Municipality said it was time for stakeholders to see NTFPs viable enough to be invested in so as to improve rural livelihoods.
Mr Philip Ayamba, the Programme Coordinator of ZOVFA, in an interaction with the media and stakeholders in Agriculture, reiterated that NFTPs, which provided safety nets for rural people in terms of medicine, nutrition and income, had been neglected and were gradually being destroyed by the abuse of the environment through mining, burning and tree felling among others.
He said ZOVFA was undertaking a one-year advocacy action that would foster the potential contribution of non-Timber forests products to reduce poverty in the Upper East Region.
The findings, after of a study to explore the potential and contributions of NTFPs and their role in contributing to household income proved to be very beneficial.
It is funded by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC).
Mr Mark Akparibo, a Senior Field Officer of ZOVFA, who presented the research findings conducted by the group in the six districts said the study was meant to investigate the current challenges facing NTFP commercialization, to establish specific NTFP livelihood linkages in the selected districts, propose initiatives for supporting NTFP and sustainability and to establish the extent to which NTFPs were mainstreamed in the Mid-term development plans of the District Assemblies.
The study identified shea and dawadawa to be top most NFTPs being collected and utilized in the study area with a score of 17.9 per cent followed by baobab scoring 16.7 per cent whilst honey and straw baskets scored 11.5 per cent and 10.3 respectively with women ranking 85 per cent as primary collectors of NFTPs.
Mr Akparibo, called on the District Assemblies and Municipal Assemblies to lead the process into prioritizing the NTFP sector in their medium term development plans, saying “We are of the view that a number of NFTPs could be considered as raw materials for the Government’s ‘one District, One factory initiative’ “.
He urged the Assemblies to identify and train the collectors of the natural products, to add value to them.