President Nana Akufo-Addo on Tuesday, March 30, 2022, delivered his seventh State of the Nation address (SONA).
It was a report card that covered the social, economic, and financial state of the country in conformity with Article 67 of the 1992 constitution.
The State of the Nation address also catalogued the challenges and achievements of the second year of his final term in office.
Trumpeting the success story of last year’s Green Ghana Day, which was aimed at tackling the threats of deforestation, the President claimed that last year’s tree planting exercise exceeded the event’s five million target.
Fact-Check Ghana has verified the claim and presents the report below.
Claim: “Mr. Speaker, the Green Ghana Day, last year, was a great success, as many people turned out to join in the exercise to plant trees. I urge all of us to continue to take care of what we planted to make sure that the seven million seedlings we planted, i.e., two million more than the original target of five million, become fully grown trees.”
Explanation: As part of efforts to arrest Ghana’s alarming forest cover loss, the government in June last year introduced the Green Ghana Day Campaign.
The government, through the Forestry Commission, provided free seedlings to all institutions and individuals willing to plant trees on June 11, 2021.
Fact-Check Ghana has spotted an inconsistency in the data captured as the total number of seedlings planted and the verified number of trees. The team has noted contradictions in the data presented by the President, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Jinapor; his Deputy, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio; and the Forestry Commission.
On June 23, 2021, Graphic Online reported that the Forestry Commission (FC) distributed more than seven million assorted tree seedlings across the country during the Green Ghana tree planting exercise last year.
“Even though planting figures are still being collated across the 16 regions, provisional figures from the FC [Forestry Commission] clearly show that we exceeded the five million targets. This is remarkable and historic,” the publication quoted Mr. Jinapor’s figures to Parliament on June 22, 2021.
Mr Jinapor’s Deputy, Mr Owusu-Bio repeated similar lines on December 16, 2021, during a press briefing.
Mr Owusu-Bio, who heads the Green Ghana Day Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, said:
“Overall, 7 million seedlings were distributed and we have the list of the regional distribution that was done and we can attest to the fact that almost everything was planted. In fact, there was very high demand to the extent that at a point in time we even ran out of the seedlings.”
This is consistent with what Mr Jinapor told Parliament on March 3, 2022 when he appeared before the House.
He told the lawmakers that “the Forestry Commission procured 4,897,247 seedlings, out of the 7,193,424 seedlings distributed for planting during the maiden edition of the Green Ghana Day, on June 11, 2021.”
Fact-Check Ghana leant from the Forestry Commission and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources that the remaining close to three million seedlings were donations from plantation developers and individuals, including Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi ll, President of the National House of Chiefs.
However, statistics Fact-Check Ghana obtained from the Forestry Commission through a Right to Information (RTI) request dated March 10,2022, shows that although 7,193,424 seedlings were distributed, 6,603,298 were verified as planted.
This leaves a shortfall of 590,126 seedlings.
The Forestry Commission’s data of the seedlings verified as planted is inconsistent with the figure the President presented at the State of the Nation.
From the above therefore, Fact-Check Ghana can conclude that the figures the president provided to Parliament and that of his ministers are contradictory.