Upfield, the world’s largest plant-based foods company has kicked off the planting of shea and other indigenous trees in the second phase of its Shea Sustainability Project launched in Ghana last year, in partnership with Ghanaian landscape restoration firm, Eco Restore Ltd.

The earth-friendly event held on Friday, June 10th, which was also the country’s National Green Ghana Day, marked the commencement of the 2022 establishment of 6,000 trees in Tinguri, Gbimsi, Sayoo and Saadaafong communities in Northern Ghana. After planting this year, the seedlings’ survival will then be monitored for an additional two years. Upfield first announced the commencement of the project and partnership with Eco Restore in December 2021, after some of their shea seedlings were booked for planting in the 2022 season. The shea seedlings and other indigenous seedlings, nursed to a size ready for parkland establishment, have now been delivered to communities prior to being given to registered and trained farmers. This symbolic tree planting event by senior Chiefs and community women and youth leaders officially kick off the planting season.

Upfield’s Global Director of Sustainability & ESG, Sally Smith said, “The global food system has to be transformed, from what we choose to eat to how it is grown. We have an essential part to play, as the window of opportunity to make a real impact on climate change has started to close. Our commitment to growing these 6,000 trees back into the landscapes of northern Ghana over the next three years is one of the many steps Upfield is taking as part of our goal to enhance the livelihoods of smallholders and plant-based entrepreneurs. With Shea being one of the core ingredients for Upfield products, we are proud to be part of such an important project that will support the long-term sustainability of the crop as well as local women and communities.”

Speaking about the event, Managing Director, Upfield West Africa, Bamidele Amao noted that beyond responding to the call of the Ghanaian government to plant trees on Green Ghana Day, this project is engrained in Upfield’s sustainability strategy. “Upfield is increasing the use of shea in our product formulations and locally sourcing some of our raw materials to improve the shea value chain and the country’s economy. We are planting shea trees and other mixed indigenous NTFP and wood-fuel species which will be commercially beneficial to the communities where this project is domiciled. We have another pillar of the project which will focus on improving the livelihoods, health, and safety of women shea nut pickers in nearby communities which we will announce in the coming weeks”, he revealed.

In a discussion with Eco Restore’s executive directors, Dr. Zakaria Issahaku said, “Bringing indigenous tree crops back to community landscapes will go a long way to improving dietary and environmental resilience”.“African tree crops are like our children; they need long-term support from the whole community to raise. Seeing the enthusiasm in Friday’s Tree Growing Launches, has given us the confidence that we can successfully restore these landscapes”, added Dr. Peter Lovett.

The chief of Saadaafong, JarigbandaanaAbdulaiSulemana said, “We assure Upfield and Eco Restore that my elders and I will engage all stakeholders, including livestock caretakers, to ensure total protection of the 6,000 trees being planted this season”. He added, “The coming of your organisations to encourage tree growing, is very timely and much appreciated, and we pray you invest further to plant more trees. We warmly embrace this initiative with all hands and assure you of the highest level of community participation.”

The Shea Sustainability Project is in line with Upfield’s commitment to a healthier, happier, and better plant-based world leveraging its Environment, Social, and Governance strategy. This project is supporting local farmers in Ghana like other Upfield farmers’ projects; NAFAKA and the Canola project in East Africa.

About Upfield

Upfield is the largest plant-based consumer products company in the world; the #1 producer of plant-based spreads & cheeses with more than 100 brands worldwide. (By plant-based we mean our products are largely or sourced from plant sources.) With headquarters in Amsterdam, we sell our products in over 95 countries and have 14 manufacturing sites throughout the world, including 1 in Ghana. The company employs over 4200 Associates.

At Upfield, our purpose is to make people healthier and happier with great-tasting, plant-based nutrition products that are better for the planet. We are focused on delivering healthier products that are great tasting and are superior in quality, which helps us deliver on our mission to create a “Better Plant-based Future.” Our iconic brands include FLORA, RAMA, BLUE BAND, PROACTIV, BECEL, COUNTRY CROCK, and VIOLIFE®. In Africa, the Upfield business is divided into 2 main parts a) West & Central Africa and b) East and Southern Africa. Ghana is part of the former. The Opportunity in West Africa is huge and we are taking advantage of this opportunity to scale our business in the region and subsequently increase our impact in Ghana.

About Eco Restore

Eco Restore Ltd. is a Ghanaian agri-business start-up (incorp. 2019) with the vision of “Modernizing the Ancient” to restore millions of hectares of savannah parkland across West Africa. Operations have begun in Ghana and are being extended to other African countries as opportunities emerge. It employs beyond sustainable strategies that ensure ownership and management of established indigenous tree species in community areas, whilst incorporating ecological best practices to ensure regenerative agroforestry is successfully practised across landscape scales.

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