The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Lands and Forestry, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, has called on private commercial forest plantation developers to invest in plant tissue culture laboratories to reduce plant gestation period.
He made the call at the tape-cutting ceremony of the newly commissioned plant tissue culture laboratory on Tuesday established by Star Agro Forestry Limited in Atwima Mponua in the Ashanti Region.
He stated that seedlings produced in the modern laboratory would significantly reduce the period required for timber species planted in Ghana to mature for commercial harvesting.
“This development will therefore dismiss the long-held notion that it takes a very long time for returns to be realised from investments in the forest plantation establishment,” he added.
The Deputy Minister noted that the plant laboratory has been established at an opportune time for the country to grow more quality materials.
He urged the company to expedite the process of manufacturing fruit seedlings for local farmers to grow on farms for worldwide export to increase profits.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, disclosed that the agency was in the process of completing a fit-for-purpose central tree nursery with modern facilities at Nsuatre in the Bono Region.
He expressed confidence that seedlings produced by the tissue culture laboratory, the Forestry Commission’s central nursery and other modern tree nurseries, would ensure that enough quality tree seedlings were available in the country to meet the government’s aggressive national afforestation and reforestation targets.
Mr Allotey encouraged the company to employ at least 80% Ghanaians and make the laboratory available to students for research purposes.
On his part, Mr Sanjay Poddar, the Managing Director of Star Agro Forestry Limited, explained that tissue culture was a modern method of plant propagation and Ghana’s adoption would increase the production of quality indigenous crops and staples foods such as Teak, Eucalyptus, Bamboo, Cocoa and Cashew.
He spelt out some benefits of the tissue culture as against plant cuttings, stating that, one plant tissue can produce 10,000 to 100,000 plant seedlings.
Irene Wirekoaa Osei, ISD