Some 3,000 former small-scale illegal miners have been employed as oil palm plantation farmers under the Alternative Livelihoods Project in the Birim Central Municipality of the Eastern Region.
The project seeks to curb illegal small-scale mining, otherwise known as “galamsey” in the area, and provide alternative employment for residents who hitherto were engaged in illegal mining.
The project has also provided 6,000 indirect jobs within the agricultural value chain in the municipality.
Mr Isaac Mann, the Director of Birim Central Municipal Agriculture Department, made this known during a briefing session with the board of the Minerals Commission in Accra on Tuesday.
The project commenced in 2020 and had so far distributed 438, 000 oil palm seedlings to the farmers, he said.
The seedlings were hybrid and high yield-improved variety which could produce more fruits than the ordinary ones.
The seedlings were distributed to interested individuals who had available arable lands for oil palm plantation.
“So far, their plantations have been fruitful, raking in profits for the farmers and helping to mitigate illegal mining activities in the area,” Mr Mann said.
Madam Ama Henewaa, a beneficiary farmer, lauded the Commission for the initiative, saying; “It has helped me to provide jobs for the youth and women in the Municipality.”
The venture was profitable because it had ready market from nearby communities who buy the produce to sell, she said.
Madam Henewa, however, entreated the Government to establish a processing factory in the area to process palm fruits into refined products.
Mr Martin Kwaku Ayisi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, on his part, said the Commission would continue to champion the project in other parts of the country to mitigate the menace of illegal mining.
He urged the youth to enroll in the programme to gain meaningful employment to improve the standards of living of the people.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources under its Mining Community Development Scheme rolled-out the Project as an Alternative Livelihood Development Programme to ensure socio-economic development of the people living in the mining communities, especially those engaged in illegal mining.
The Minerals Development Fund, in 2017, commenced the distribution of one million hybrid oil palm seedlings to mining communities as an alternative to illegal mining.
The next phase of the programme is designed to capture the youth and women in deprived mining areas to enable them to generate meaningful source of income to improve their lots.