Socio-economic analysis of wood fuel production and utilization- case study of the Upper Denkyira District

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This thesis looks at the socio-economic analysis of wood fuel (charcoal & fire wood) production and utilization in the Upper Denkyira District in the Central Region. The main objective of the study was to determine the contribution of the wood fuel industry to sustainable livelihood in the study area. The study was premised on the central theme that producers of wood fuel do not produce their own wood lot aimed at producing their own wood for fuel. The study mainly draws its materials from the survey undertaken in the study area. In the study, 33 producers and 115 users of wood fuel were sampled from five (5) communities in the district. Distributors/ marketers and woodlot practitioners were also selected for the survey. A combination of structured questionnaire, focal group discussion (FGD), personal observations and wood fuel measurements were employed as data collection methods. Data was analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively to arrive at the results and findings. The major findings of the study were that the raw materials for the processing and production of wood fuel found in almost all the five (5) communities selected for the study came from the natural forest: people did not plant their own wood (trees) to use them as fuel for both domestic and/or commercial purposes. The study identified that processors and producers of wood fuel faced tenure problems, forest laws (in some cases) and other economic constraints. This situation occasionally resulted in the demand for the product exceeding supply resulting in price increases. Proper measures should be put in place to ensure efficient and sustainable production of the product if any future shortages were to be avoided. This finding has substantiated the hypothesis of the study that producers of wood fuel do not produce their own wood lot. In some instances, alternative means of providing wood for wood fuel (woodlot production) were found to be on going among some individuals in the selected communities but whose main motive was for timber and pole production. Some educational institutions had woodlot that occasionally fell some for wood fuel. The research found that most of the wood fuel actors have indigenous ideas about Agro-forestry, and could be a starting point for the introduction of the scientific wood planting. Most of the preferred tree species were in scarce supply due to their gradual extinction through identified factors such as farming, mining, logging and wood fuel sourcing. The quantity and the cost of production of wood fuel depended on factors such as availability of wood (trees), land and tree tenure system in the area, the effectiveness of forestry laws and the location of the producing area with regard to the area of demand (i.e., transportation cost). Labor cost was not a critical factor in determining the cost of wood fuel production in the study area because of the existence of reliance on family hands by most of the producers. Charcoal was produced by the earth mound method more than the other modern methods like the kiln. The study again identified that women and children were the dominant labor force for the production of wood fuel, with male counterparts performing a smaller proportion of felling of trees. Species of trees preferred for wood fuel included, Khaya spp (mahogany),Miliciaexcelsa (Odoum), Seltis spp (Esa), Cylicodiscus gabonensis (Denya) and Piptadeniastrum africanum (Dahoma). The distribution/ marketing of the product were done with various modes. Most domestic users gathered and conveyed it by head loading. Commercially, truck and other vehicles were used as a popular mode. Commercial production needs permits from district Forestry Department and this attracted a fee per tree in a defined concession. The research found that some supply of wood fuel came from a neighboring district other than the Upper Denkyira District. Majority of the products are sent to the capital town, Dunkwa where the demand and prices are very high. Occasionally, wood fuel is also supplied to a neighboring town like Obuasi. Consumption of wood fuel in the study area is very high as compared with other sources of energy. The demand for firewood for domestic cooking and heating was very high in all the five (5) communities the survey took place. The preference for firewood begins to give way to charcoal and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as the geographical size and the income levels of the residents’ increase. Commercial use of wood fuel included, bakery, local gin distillery and food vendors.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fullfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science in Agroforestry, 1998