THE National Forest Plantation Development Programme (NFPDP) has generated 15,656 jobs since President John Evans Atta Mills launched it at Abofour in the Ashanti Region in January 2010.
Each person is working on a hectare of land on which he or she plants and nurtures the seedlings to maturity under the supervision of the Forestry Services Division (FSD).
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Collins Dauda, disclosed this in an interview after visiting four of the plantation sites in the Ashanti Region on Wednesday.
The sites are at Amoaman and Beposo in the Sekyere Central District and two others in the Mampong municipality.
Apart from receiving monthly allowances, the workers have also been given the freedom to cultivate maize and other foodstuffs on the land allocated to them for their own use.
Targeted at regenerating over 400,000 hectares of degraded reserves and off-reserve areas, the NFPDP will focus essentially on developing a sustainable forest resource base to accelerate the national greening campaign and rejuvenate rural economies through the provision of over 51,000 jobs in 170 districts by 2011, from an initial 30,000 jobs in 100 districts this year.
Objectives developed to achieve the overall goal include generating employment as a means of reducing rural poverty, the wood deficit, among others.
Funding for the programme comes from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) funds, the District Assemblies’ Common Fund, the Plantations Fund Board and the Mineral Development Fund.
Addressing the workers at the plantation sites, Alhaji Dauda said the programme was very dear to the heart of the government, for which reason it would commit all the resources to see the programme grow.
He described the NFPDP as a good employment avenue for the youth and, therefore, urged them to work hard to sustain it.
The minister said no genuine work was useless, stressing, “A good work is how you do it.”
The minister, on behalf of his ministry, presented a number of uniforms and machetes to the workers to facilitate their work.
Briefing the minister, the Ashanti Regional Manager of the FSD, Mrs Edith Abroquah, said the people had fully embraced the NFPDP, which is a source of hope for a number of people in the rural communities.
She said some of the sites were ready for planting, while others were still being prepared.
She mentioned some of the challenges facing the programme as difficulty in acquiring reserve lands and means of transporting field staff to and from the planting sites.
The Sekyere Central District Chief Executive, Mr Ebenezer Akuoko Frimpong, pledged the support of the district assembly to the programme to enable it to achieve its goal.