About 400 women, formerly engaged in illegal mining in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region, are now into the picking and selling of neem seeds as an alternative source of livelihood.
The women are able to make an average of GH¢ 60 a day from picking neem seeds and selling them to the Nangodi Neem Company, a neem processing centre in Nangodi.
The Nabdam District Assembly has thus urged the government to adopt the neem oil processing centre under the One-District One-Factory programme to bring on board more women who are into galamsey.
About 2,000 rural women are reported to be into illegal mining in the area, largely because of poverty and the absence of alternative livelihoods.
In 2014, Professor Alisha Rani from the University of Michigan in the United States of America visited the Nabdam District for research work.
Having found the conditions under which the women searched for gold in the area, he decided to establish the neem oil processing centre through the support of the Michigan university.
Since then, the women in the area have contributed immensely to the centre by supplying the neem seeds. The centre pays GH₵20 for a small paint container and GH₵ 240 for a full sac of neem seeds.
As a way of boosting the production of neem oil in the area, the Nabdam District Assembly has acquired 100 acres of land for neem tree plantation to feed the factory, alongside the seeds supplied by the women.
The Assembly has also taken keen interest in facilitating a market for the oil products, monitoring and is currently facilitating its conversion into a factory under 1D1F.
District Chief Executive Agnes Anamoo expressed optimism about the adoption of the centre under 1D1F, emphasizing it will help the women financially, and take them out of illegal mining.