Analysis of modified taungya system from socio-economic and biodiversity perspective: A case study in Sunyani Forest District, Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana

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June, 2009.
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Taungya plantation development schemes based purely on technical grounds and national economic criteria are bound to be unsuccessful, if the social and economic needs of the farmers are not incorporated into the taungya forest plantation development schemes. Failure of taungya plantation development has a much more negative impact on the environment and its biodiversity than even the incidence of fire. The forest reserves in the Sunyani Forest District are within the fire-prone forest-savannah transitional zone of Ghana, which exist in equilibrium with occasional fire incidence. The objective of the study was to assess the employment, income opportunities, biodiversity implications and problems of taungya plantations establishments in Sunyani Forest District. Data collected included consultations with staff of Sunyani Forest Service District, field visits, individual interviewing using semi-structured questionnaire and group discussions. The Sunyani Forest Service District taungya system operations offer employment to 180 labourers per year and 47 forestry staff to carry out the various operations in the taungya system. The average wage per manday over the years was GH¢1.20 which is below the current minimum wage of GH¢1.80 and hence insignificant when using taungya plantation development as one of the poverty alleviation strategies most especially in the rural communities. Between the periods 2005–2009 volume of teak wood extracted in the Sunyani Forest Services District was about 31,040 cubic meters with an estimated value of about GH¢4,345,600.00 accrued to the government and not to the taungya farmers. Thus, the socio-economic aspects of the taungya farmers are not considered as far as the tree component of the taungya system is concern. However, some farmers (22 %) benefit from firewood from teak branches and slabs from sawmill companies in the study area. Unfortunately, the farmers do not benefit from the timber/pole output of the taungya system. Within the farming system maize is the most preferred crop (31.88 %) by farmers among the other staple crops. From the perspectives of the respondents (e.g. farmers, herbalists, hunters and forest technical officers) indicate that less number of different flora species grow in taungya plantations and these are the plant species that are mostly left standing in the course of land preparation for taungya plantations establishment. Again from the view points of the respondents inter alia farmers, herbalist, hunters and forest technical officers different fauna species commonly encountered in taungya plantations are abysmal. Transport for taungya operations in the study area was identified as one big constraint to successful taungya operations. Irrespective of the innovative move to improve taungya operations, partly to provide employment and alleviate poverty in the rural communities, if the Ghana Government Plantation Policy framework governing the National Forest Plantation Development Project (NFPDP), launched in September, 2000 is not fully implemented for the taungya farmers to benefit, in the long term, from the output of the tree component, the objectives of the modified taungya system, as a strategy to provide employment, alleviate poverty and produce high quality wood, so as to reduce the mounting pressure on the natural forest resources will still remain elusive.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science And Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Science degree in Agroforestry.