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Japan through FAO to support Sustainable Cocoa Production with Successional and Diversified Agroforestry in Ghana

Participants at the inception workshop

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with funding from the Japan Government has launched a project designed to provide support to the government of  Ghana’s efforts to reclaim mine degraded cocoa landscapes.

Illegal smale-scale mining also known as Galamsey in Ghana has resulted in the destruction of cocoa farms, loss of forest cover, land and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. The situation is even worse in cocoa growing areas where large tracts of cocoa farms are destroyed resulting in loss of livelihoods of smallholder cocoa farmers.

The Project, “Recovery of Environment and Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers Affected by Illegal Mining and Improvement of Climate Resilience and Food Security through Sustainable Cocoa Production with Successional and Diversified Agroforestry in Ghana (GCP /GHA/031/JPN)’’, will help to restore forest and biodiversity,  promote  cocoa-based agroforestry and buffer the effect of climate change and sustainably improve livelihoods of small-scale cocoa farmers.

Ghana, the second largest Cocoa producer and exporter, together with Côte d’Ivoire, produces about 70% of the world’s cocoa. The cocoa industry in Ghana employs approximately 800,000 farm families and contributes to more than half of their cash income, therefore crucial for food security and nutrition of the region. Cocoa generates about US$2 billion in foreign exchange annually and is a major contributor to government revenue and GDP in Ghana (COCOBOD).  

The Government of Japan supports the Government of Ghana through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the contribution of US$800,000 in the effort to promote climate resilience and sustainable cocoa production using successional and diversified cocoa-based agroforestry while restoring the environment and livelihoods of smallholder cocoa farmers affected by illegal mining. 

 According to the preliminary survey by Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), it affected at least 16,468.51ha of cocoa farm lands degraded, the livelihoods on 84,635 smallholder farmers, loosing at least US$27 million worth cocoa beans every year. 

Cocoa productivity has also been decreasing due to unsustainable farming practices, ageing cocoa trees and low soil fertility. Furthermore, the impact of Global Climate Change on agriculture and especially cocoa production in Ghana cannot be downplayed. The crop is known to be one of the most vulnerable crops to climate variability (Agbongiarhuoyi et al. 2013).

 It is predicted that the average annual temperature in Ghana will rise by up to 2°C by 2050 (CIAT 2011), increasing evapotranspiration and drought stress on cocoa, thus reducing area suited to cocoa production to almost one fifth of the current planted area. Increasing temperature, long periods of drought, unpredictable and uneven distribution of rainfall will have greater effect on cocoa production. 

 Mr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel the Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa noted that FAO in collaboration with University of Ghana and Ohayo Foundation in Ghana has tested and is promoting the SAFTA (Sistema Agroflorestal de Tomé-Açu’’ or Tomé-Açu Agroforestry System), technology in Ghana.

He said the SAFTA technology has proven to be successful in increasing cocoa productivity in the Amazon to over 800kg/ha in Brazil. With the support of Government of Japan, in collaboration with the University of Ghana and Ohayo Ghana Foundation, as well as Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG). The project aims at  reclaiming mined-degraded cocoa lands for cocoa agroforestry, restore the livelihoods of smallholder farmers affected by illegal mining and Promote sustainable cocoa production using SAFTA.

H.E. Mr. Tsutomu Himeno, Japanese Ambassador to Ghana stressed on the importance of joint effort and partnership as well as better coordination among stakeholders including Government , development partners, research institutions including Academia/Universities, private sector and civil societies as well as farmers’ organizations to ensure the success of the project.

FAO and Government of Japan partnership 

For decades, the Government of Japan has been among FAO’s foremost partners, working to build food security and promoting sustainable use of natural resources. The country is the second largest contributor to the organization’s regular budget, a lead voluntary contributor and one of the top resource partners supporting FAO’s 2500 on-going field programmes. Japanese expertise and personnel are vital to the organization’s work in sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry development.