Start-up equipment presented to beneficiaries of Green Economy

Two hundred and thirty one beneficiaries of the Green Economy in Biosphere Reserve (GEBR) project at the Bia National Park and Bia Resource Reserve in the Western Region have received Start-up equipment. The 231 beneficiaries from 28 communities within the Bia National Park and Bia Resource Reserve, underwent training in bee keeping, snail farming, palm oil extraction and mushroom production. They were given certificates of participation and equipment such as beehives, snail pens, palm oil extracting machines and mushroom production sheds. The project, which is under the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) and the Biosphere programme is a revolving fund, which provides each farmer with a facility in kind after she/he had opened an account with the HFC Bank, through which deductions will be made for repayment. Mr Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, the Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in his address said the project seeks to conserve biodiversity and reduce poverty among the people. He lauded the people for showing keen interest in it and urged the beneficiaries to work hard and to be mindful of the fact that there would be a day of accountability. Mr Prosper Kwasi Nyavor, the National Programme Officer (Education), UNESCO, praised the people of the Sewfi Traditional area for not allowing the activities of illegal miners; which according to him destroys the environment and farmlands. He said all and sundry have a role to play to ensure the success of the project; saying that, “the personal responsibility of the trainees is key to the success of the project.” Ms Jiye Suh of Korea International Cooperation Agency said the project would build the capacity of communities in a holistic manner to ensure the sustainability of the biodiversity businesses and to conserve the resource-base of their businesses. She said the project was very important to the Korean Government because globally, climate change mitigation, adaptation to climate change and the conservation of biological diversity are among today's key environmental challenges. Mr Kingsley Asoa-Apimah, the District Chief Executive, Juaboso District Assembly, said government firmly backs the project and would give it the need support to ensure that it succeeds. He advised the beneficiaries to pay back the loan on time, so that other people could be enrolled on the programme. Mr Habib Adam, the Assistant Director, Bia West District Assembly, commended the Korean Government and UNESCO for the project; and urged the beneficiaries “to take hold of the project and own it to ensure its success.” Nana Osei Boateng, Kumkumsohene said the project would create job opportunities for the unemployed youth in the area. He also encouraged the local project management committee members to do their work with all diligence in order to facilitate its success and sustainability. Nana Kwao Asante Bediatuo II, Sefwi Asepaneyehene, said the project would go a long way to enhance a better human-ecosystem interaction. Mr Richard Ofori-Amanfo, the Park Manager, Bia Biosphere Reserve said the project would create good relationship between the Park Authorities and the communities, thereby facilitating the sustainable management of the biodiversity. Mr Samuel Kwabena Nibree, a famer and a project beneficiary expressed his gratitude to the organizers for coming to their aide; saying that, rearing the snails would serve as a regular source of protein and income for him and as family. The GEBR project, under the auspices of the KOICA, in partnership with the UNESCO, was launched in September 2013 for a two-year period, which has been extended to December2016. The project is currently being implemented in three African Biosphere Reserves (BRs) in forest ecosystems namely the Bia BR, Ghana, East Usambara BR, Tanzania, and the Omo BR, Nigeria. The KOICA has provided an amount of $430,000 as a means of support for activity implementation in each beneficiary BR. The project is being implemented in the context of UNESCO's Priority Africa, with the aim of conserving biodiversity, reducing poverty and contributing to sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa through biodiversity businesses in biosphere reserves. The Ghana project is being implemented by UNESCO in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wildlife Division. The Bia National Park and Bia Resource Reserve, which is a UNESCO heritage site and the only Biosphere Reserve in the country, covers a total area of 305.62km˛ of the original National Park, which was later divided into 277.92km˛ Bia Resource Reserve and the other 77.7km˛ representing the National Park.