Throughout my childhood and adult years, I have always carried special pride in my heart for Ghana, the country of my birth. And that special pride is fueled by wonderful memories of wandering on the streets with my school friends, playing with my siblings at home and going to church with my parents, taking visits to Accra Zoo and other interesting sites in Ghana, as well as receiving gifts from relatives at Christmas and having fun at family outdoor parties in the golden sunshine.
But my time at Farmerline, which involves working with farmers and other actors in the agriculture space, exposes me to different adventures.
Each time I hit the road for work, I’m taken on a journey of an amazing country filled with beautiful nature, amazing people, and inspiring art and culture. My interactions with small-holder farmers spread across the country allows me the opportunity to see what influence people in hidden parts of the motherland can have on your humanity.
So in all my trips and experiences, one question keeps popping up; why is such a beautiful country like Ghana still poor?
I have read about African countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa who have turned their raw natural habitats and wildlife resources into money generating ventures.
What is Ghana getting wrong? What needs to be done to get Ghana on the same pedestal to also chalk such successes?
And the word that comes to mind for me is ECOTOURISM!
In a decade (1983 – 1993), the percentage of visitors to Kenya rose by 45%, and 80% of the tourism market was drawn by wildlife which generates one-third of the country’s foreign earnings.
What is Ghana missing?
Ghana is endowed with many geographic features which can be harnessed for ecotourism. There are however a few ecotourism sites being patronised such as the Kakum Forest, Mole National Park, Wli Water Falls, Butterfly Sanctuary, etc. Nonetheless, in most of the villages and towns I have visited, I see numerous potential tourist attraction sites worth unearthing. The glorious vegetation with rare tree species, communities engulfed by magnificent mountainscapes and hills covered by clouds, streams flowing through the forests, extraordinary carved rocks and roads arrayed with bamboo trees and beautiful cocoa farms that will whip up a desire to become a farmer. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people”.
The rich cultural traditions of Ghanaians and undeniable hospitality shown to all people are worth noting and will spearhead Ghana’s ecotourism into another pedestal.
Ecotourism in Ghana’s remote areas will improve the livelihoods of indigenes; provide employment for many especially the youth whiles increasing the country’s foreign exchange.
Zimmerman once said “resources are not; they become”. Beautiful sceneries in Sefwi Wiawso (Western Region), Fiaso (Brong-Ahafo Region), Tsarley Kope (Volta Region), Jagluu (Upper West Region), Tebeso, Nyakumaso, Wioso all in the Ashanti Region and many others are still waiting for their time to shine!
Let us see with new eyes the many potentials lying within this naturally wealthy country!