Posted by: rumnet | January 3, 2012

Threat of Mining to Shea Resource in Northern Ghana

Threat of Mining to Shea Resource in Northern Ghana

 (published in the november edition of the advocate)

By Alhassan Imoru

The shea tree

In recent times, there are emerging new threats to further degradation by the introduction of bio-fuels cultivation and worse still, the discovery of gold deposits in some parts of the country.

A case in point is the Upper West Region where gold deposits are reported to stretch from Wa, in the southern part of the region, right through to Hamile, in the northern- most part of the region.

What is worrying is that with the potential devastating effects of mining on land, if mining is not properly regulated, it would leave the land further degraded and the people poorer.

And yet, an Australian Mining Company, Azumah Resources Limited, is already in the Upper West Region, and government has given it indenture agreements and 100% concession covering over 3,000sq.km of land and license for prospecting in the region.

According to the Regional Co-ordinator of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), Mr. Daniel Banouku, of the 3000 sq.km explored has yielded about 1.2 million ounces of gold which Azumah Resources is seeking a mining license to commence mining hopefully in 2013.

“I doubt if the Upper West Region is aware and is prepared to address the attendant problems that characterize mining communities all over the world with the worse being in third world countries”, he stated.

The question that arises is “Why should we mine gold to destroy the Shea resource?”

Shea Widespread

 

The Shea tree grows naturally and is widespread in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana. The Shea is also found sparsely in the northern corridors of Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions.

Ghana is reported to produce the highest quality sheanut and is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters. With over 900,000 Shea pickers and processors in Ghana, mostly women, the Shea has a potentially large and rapid impact on rural poverty and livelihoods.

Ghana is reported to produce Shea kernels and butter valued at approximately USD 33 million.

In the Upper Region, for instance, every household engages in a Shea activity and this is concentrated around the eastern belts, namely Jirapa and Nadowli, and the western corridors of south-east, Wa West and East.

Shea trees are currently under threat through mining and other commercial activities such as mango, cashew and jatropha plantations all over Northern Ghana.Weak and non-existent bye-laws for tree protection is also a contributory factor. Threats to the shea tree such as charcoal burning, firewood collection, replacement with other trees also endanger the ecosystem.

Mr. Banuouku suggests the introduction of the Bio-cultural Community Protocols (BCPs) Initiative in mining communities to protect against further destruction and support the sustenance of the Shea tree.

He said BCP is a common resource for the whole community and for the common good, adding: “If all agree to the initiative, all community members would benefit.”

According to the CIKOD Regional Co-ordinator, Bio-cultural Community Protocols can give support in sustaining the Shea and consequently act as a fire resistant to help control bush fires.“As long as communities have a collective benefit for the Shea nut, they will have a collective responsibility for the protection/conservation and sustainable use of the Shea tree,” he stated.

Participants at a Regional Workshop on Mining held recently in Wa, were generally of the view that it would be more economically and ecologically beneficial to invest in developing BCPs for the conservation of the Shea resource than gold mining.

They further suggested that any investor interested in mining gold must agree to and establish Shea plantations for affected communities using the technology in southern Burkina Faso.

Choice of Shea

The choice of Shea is based on its contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1,3 and 7, its relevance for inclusion of vulnerable groups such as women and smallholders, as well as the high cross border interest in the chain.

The Shea is a forgotten natural resource under threat. With the increasing world demand for Shea and its enormous market growth potential, Ghana stands to gain and give a lifeline for local communities, vulnerable groups, women and children as well as the poor, if Bio-cultural Community Protocols are given a boost.

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Responses

  1. sacrificing shea for mining is very bad

  2. Ti bi yan deeli.
    sheeje tali mbala.
    ti bi yan sagli
    fara n yan kuti ka iyan saginli


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