Kumasi, Aug 31, GNA - The government of the Netherlands has donated 960,000 dollars to the Centre of Biodiversity Utilisation and Development (CBUD) as initial funding for its five-year programme for the sustainable development and conservation of forest species and wildlife.
Mr Alex Heldring, Netherlands Ambassador in Ghana said this at the inauguration of a 15-member Board of Directors of the CBUD at the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi on Tuesday.
He said the amount would cater for the first two years of the programme, which would cover feasibility studies into medicinal plants, fruits and spices such as "prekese" and nutmeg.
Mr Heldring said the Dutch government supports Ghana's Natural Resource Management Programme (NRMP) launched in June 22 this year aimed at building capacity and framework to protect the country's land, forest and wildlife.
It also supports other activities of the NRMP such as development of forest management, certification system, development of bush fire management in the transitional zone and development plan for Mole National Park in the Northern region.
The CBUD facilitate and co-ordinate forest product development including the identification of products of biodiversity in the country and developing strategies to conserve them to ensure their sustainable production, processing and marketing.
In a keynote address read on behalf, of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, he thanked the Netherlands government for the assistance and said he regretted that the rich socio-cultural and rich natural resources were " being marginalized and replaced unnecessarily," in the name of "modernity".
He called on Ghanaians to protect sacred groves and other traditional values and beliefs, which are environmentally friendly and have been proved to be scientifically correct.
"It is because we Ghanaians fail to recognise that our traditional foods and rich biological resources in our naturally endowed ecosystems, are equally healthy, nutritious and beneficial to our livelihood." Otumfuo Osei Tutu maintained that imported foods are a serious drain on the economy and called on Ghanaians to eat local food.
Dr Emmanuel Asibey, Chairman, said the Board would strive to lay a proper foundation to build, develop and diversify the use of indigenous biological resources in ways that would conserve the cultural identity of the people, whose heritage are rooted in the soil.
Professor A. K. Tuah, Acting vice-chancellor of KNUST, expressed the hope that CBUD would harness resources of the country's rich natural biological diversity for a better life in the country.