A shea nut processing factory has been commissioned and handed over to Takorayili community in the West Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region.
The factory, constructed under the auspices of the Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP)is to boost the efforts of women groups in the community to increase production and add value to their shea nuts.
Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI) who commissioned the facility, said it would help empower women in the area to increase the shea business chain as their main economic venture.
He said women empowerment was key to accelerating the achievement of inclusive national development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and encouraged the women to make maximum use of the facility to increase income generation and improve on their livelihoods.
Dr Afriyie who is also the Member of Parliament for Sefwi-Wiawso Constituency in the Western North Region, noted that the shea processing factory would encourage members of the community to desist from destroying the shea trees for charcoal and other activities.
That would contribute to preserving the forest and prevent degradation of the environment, he added.
The Minister said the main goal of the SLWMP was to restore and preserve the environment and the ecosystem to enable rural communities harness the potentials of the trees and forest reserves to reduce poverty.
Mr Sulemana Alhassan, the West Mamprusi Municipal Director of the Department of Agriculture, said SLWMP had empowered about 5,000 farmers in about 20 communities in tree growing and other economic ventures.
He said the farmers were supported to plant tree crops such as Teak, Mahogany, Baobab, Cashew and Mangoes.
They were also given seeds of improved food crops such as maize, soyabeans and cowpea.
Mr Arimeyaw Somo Lucy Basintale, the Municipal Chief Executive for the area applauded SLWMP for empowering the community towards poverty reduction and noted that the municipality was benefitting from additional five factories that were almost completed.
He encouraged all stakeholders to support the women to ensure that the project was put into good use to improve on livelihoods.
Naa Dinibahari Daudu, the Chief of Takorayili, commended the NGO and said the intervention was making positive impact as women no longer cut down trees for fuel and their livelihoods were being improved.
The SLWMP is a 10-year environmental intervention designed to support the government to promote improved sustainable land and water management practices through Integrated Landscape Approach to support the reduction of land degradation through restoration and enhance the proliferation of biodiversity in selected micro-watersheds.
It is funded by a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Grant under the auspices of the World Bank and being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Forestry Commission among others.