|Hajia Dr. Salamatu Ibrahim Taimako|
Renowned environmentalist Hajia Dr. Salamatu Ibrahim Taimako is asking the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), in its quest for a forested north, to consider partnering with citizens who have track record in plantations and support them to establish more.
According to her, if SADA really wants to realise its vision much earlier than thought, it behoves management and the Board of the Authority to give adequate financial and logistical support to individuals to establish mango, cashew, teak and cassia plantations.
Accordingly, she also appealed to chiefs in the savannah zone to each allocate two acres of land in their respective communities to herbalists to cultivate herbs. This, in her estimation, will lead to the creation of more sacred groves across the entire region for use now and in the future. Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako made these observations in an interview with Savannahews in Tamale.
One might think Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako has a simplistic view about SADA’s afforestation programme, but suffice to say her many years of experience in that field is what actually drew the University for Development Studies (UDS) closer to tap into her knowledge. This collaboration also led to her being awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in the Doctor of Science category in 2004 by the university.
The award was in recognition of her expertise in indigenous knowledge systems; for her contribution to traditional medical practice; agro-forestry and sustainable agriculture; and for her devoted and selfless service to her community and humanity.
Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako is a highly revered and accomplished woman in many fields, but she has never had formal education. That notwithstanding, she is a repository of knowledge mainly derived from indigenous sources and Islamic literacy which she learned at a younger age.
Growing up as a young girl in northern Ghana, Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako’s mother was a herbalist, and that offered her the opportunity to learn the practice of healing and/or treating the sick with herbs from her mother. She got married later on and coincidentally, her husband –the late Alhaji Ibrahim Taimako, was also a herbalist. In fact, his father, too, was a herbalist and he taught him plant medicine.
|Alhaji Shamsudeen, son of Hajia at one of the nurseries|
Consequently, the couple in the 1960’s decided to start the Taimako Plants and Herbal Medicine Centre which treats infertility in men and women, menstrual problems, cholera, hypertension, cough, scorpion bites and infant diseases. After the death of Alhaji Ibrahim Taimako in 1976, Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako in the late 80’s, established a two-acre nursery to grow seedlings of vital herbs. With a handful of mahogany seedlings for a start, today the Centre has expanded and can boasts of about 200 assorted species of herbs.
Additionally, she has a nursery of over 300,000 seedlings of grafted mango; a 10-acre teak plantation, 15-acre cashew plantation and a 250-acre of grafted mango plantation which establishment was supported by the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF).
Currently, the nursery serves not only as a source of her livelihood and raw materials for herbal and medicinal purposes, but also as a demonstration farm for horticulture and medical students of the UDS to go for practical studies. Herbalists also go to the Centre for herbs to treat their patients.
As a far-sighted person, Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako has began the processing of preparing a register of herbalists in the savannah zone who have different expertise in the treatment and cure of various sicknesses. This register of herbalists, which will be ready by the end of this year, would enable patients seeking treatment for any medical condition, to locate the nearest herbalist who has cure for their ailment in the area in which they live when they make enquiries at her Centre.