Mr Alexander Asare, Manager, Collaborative Resource Management Unit of the Forestry Commission (FC), has called for a national policy on wood and charcoal utilization as fuel.
This has become necessary because of the huge potential of the charcoal industry to create employment if well organized and modern methods employed.
He was addressing a stakeholders training workshop as part of a wider review of Ghana’s Strategic National Energy Plan (SNEP).
The programme was jointly sponsored by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Energy Commission of Ghana.
Mr Asare said despite the successful promotion of the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), the urban population still depended heavily on charcoal from the hinter lands.
He said the situation where producers continued to harvest wood from the transitional and savannah zones as raw material for production was fueling deforestation.
Mr Asare said unsustainable harvesting of the forest resource and inefficient methods of carbonization had led to continuous deterioration of the environment.
He pointed out that with the country’s perfect conditions for the establishment of woodlots, a purposeful fuel wood/charcoal programme could bring immense benefits to the people.
He also suggested credit support for acquisition of modern efficient kilns, training in modern production techniques, marketing and streamlining the value chain to ensure profitability for various players.
Mr Salifu Addo of the Energy Commission said 74 per cent of the Ghanaian population depended on wood-fuel for cooking, and that, it also accounted for about 40 per cent of the annual total final energy consumption, going by the 2010 population census.
It was on the basis of this that the Commission was reviewing the previous Strategic National Plan.
Dr Lamourdia Thiombiano, FAO Deputy Regional Representative to Africa, in an address read for him, said wood fuel is the oldest source of energy and it remains vital to the daily needs of over two billion people in developing countries including Ghana.
He therefore called for greater effort to be directed at improving access to alternative forms of energy and encouraging households to switch. GNA