The Upper West Region is part of the fragile ecological savanna zone. The region has a lot of its populace engaged in peasantry with commercial business and service activities being very minimal.
Sadly, the shea tree that presents unique potentials such as shea butter with enormous market potentials largely remains untapped. Women, communities still gather shea nuts for sales with others engaged in shea butter processing. The shea value chain including shea butter for bar soap has not received the needed attention. One will be glad to hear that the shea tree happens to be the common wild tree in the regions.
Despite the enormous economic potentials, the shea tree is considered the best tree for fuel in Pito brewing and charcoal production. From Wa to Hain; Loggu to Kropong; the shea tree has become under attack, as dozens of trees have been cut down every day for fuel and charcoal burning.
The act of impunity in which shea trees have been cut down requires urgent attention. Worryingly, political leadership, chief, and youth stand aloof as selfish individuals engage in the act. For how long will we continue to end the life of shea trees just to produce charcoal for peanuts.
One often wonders whether the forest and wildlife policies and other laws indeed safeguard forest or tree life. The reality is glaring. The Upper West Region is confronted with the alarming threat of climate change given the rise in temperature and instead of promoting tree planting, we are rather aggravating it by cutting trees, with the most viable tree (shea) our prime target, despite its economic importance.
The Municipalities, District Assemblies in the Upper West Region should consider enacting punitive bye-laws to curb the menace. Again, the Forest Service Division of the Ghana Forestry Commission must be more visible in terms of their oversight responsibilities to help curb the incidence.
There is also the need for Non-Governmental organisations, and other players in the shea value chain to shift attention to protecting shea tree life. Much attention is on the shea nuts and butter. No one cares what happens to trees. What happens if all the trees are displaced? We need to intensify advocacy and designed appropriate models to deal with the issue of shea for charcoal.
Source: Tahiru Lukman, CEO Ideapath Consult