Sustainable cocoa farming crucial to protect Ghana's forest
Touton, an international cocoa trader and processor and its partners are deepening the drive to protect Ghana’s forest against depletion precipitated by cocoa cultivation in forest rich districts of the Western Region.
Ghana risks losing even more of its forest cover to unsustainable cocoa and other cash crop farming in the Bia- Juaboso Districts of the Western Region due to some practices by some farmers if current trends are maintained.
The situation, according to Touton, unfortunately comes in the wake of rising threats of climate change; hence their interest in halting the practice through its Partnership for Productivity, Protection and Resilience in Cocoa Landscapes (3PRCL) project.
The 3PRCL initiative was introduced by Touton in collaboration with SNV of the Netherlands, Agro Eco, Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC), Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), and the Forestry Commission under its REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) programme in 2017.
Participants of this year's Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA2020) General Assembly conference held in Accra journeyed to the Bia-Juabeso Districts on May 12 and 13, 2018 to see for themselves the implementation of the 3PRCL.
The 30 participants were from the DFID, P4F, World Cocoa Foundation, World Resources Institute, IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, World Economic Forum, Sustainable Supply Chains and other TFA2020 member organisations, coming from USA, United Kingdom, Columbia, Australia, Ghana, Brazil, The Netherlands and Indonesia. There were also representatives from the Forestry Commission, Cocobod, SNV, NCRC and Touton as Project consortium partners.
Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, producing over 800,000 metric tons annually, second to Ivory Coast. Cocoa is also the country's second largest export raking a whopping USD 1.89 billion for the Ghanaian economy each year.
Bank of Ghana estimates also indicate that the sector accounts for more than 9 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Additionally, the livelihood of about 800,000 farmers is heavily dependent on the “brown gold”.
The 3PRCL was initiated following the decline in production due to the impacts of climate change on aging cocoa fields in Ghana and the dire effects it may have on both the country's economy and farmers’ livelihoods if the situation is allowed to continue.
More importantly the world's leading cocoa and chocolate companies have agreed to a statement of collective intent committing them to work together, in partnership with others, to end deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain with an initial focus on Ghana and Ivory Coast.
The current situation must be crucial for international cocoa dealer traders sector stakeholders as, according to Touton's Cocoa Sustainable Sourcing Manager for Ghana Mr Ernest Dwamena, " certifying bodies Rain Forest Alliance and UTZ haves merged their activities.
The new organisation with the name Rain Forest Alliance, will tackle environmental and social issues in supply-chains, focusing on climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming.
The current situation is crucial for international cocoa traders but also other sector stakeholders. According to Touton's Sustainable Sourcing Manager for Ghana Mr Ernest Dwamena, It is one of the reasons that led certifying bodies Rain Forest Alliance and UTZ to merge their activities. The new organisation with the name Rain Forest Alliance, will tackle environmental and social issues in supply-chains, focusing on climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming
The long-term objective is to promote responsible intensification and good agro-forestry practices, and the production of deforestation-free cocoa.The long- term objective is to promoteresponsible good agro-forestry practices and to differentiate between cocoa from agroforestry of-reserves and cocoa from reserved forests and eventually eliminate the latter from the supply chain, he stated.
Though this comes as an international ambition the work begins from the local level, which Touton is now leading in the Bia-Juabeso landscape. Interestingly, Cocobod introduced the Climate Smart Cocoa Standard to help reporting of sustainability outcomes at the landscape level which is in consonance with Touton's 3PRCL project.
Under the project, Touton will work closely with Ghana Cocoa Board and other stakeholders in the landscape to establish a landscape cocoa-forest governance framework, that addresses commonly-identified challenges and solutions and find solutions to land tenure challenges.
Rural Service Centres (RSC) (Akuafo Yiedie Fie)
Participants visited one of Touton's multipurpose Rural Service Centres (Akuafo Yiedie Fie - Farmers’s Wellbeing House). The RSCs are This centre is used agro-service delivery hubs providing a variety of support services to farmers to produce more and better cocoa sustainably, and to improve their livelihoods.to train farmers on a variety of issues with the ultimate aim of getting farmers to manage their cocoa farming as businesses in a sustainable way.
In a presentation, Mr Dwamena spoke to field-trip participants about the benefits of the RSCs which included helping farmers to appropriately apply fertilizer, compost and approved agro-chemicals on their cocoa trees. In addition, and, financial education curricula allows which leads farmers to apply business principles in their farming activities including opening of savings account with Advans Ghana (a financial services provider attached to the RSC). So far about 1,250 farmers have opened accounts with the company, and could therefore, secure loans at just about two 2.1 per cent per monthannum for farmers to buy agricultural inputs during the peak farming season.
Touton currently has six RSCs in six cocoa districts in Ghana.
Almost 18,000 farmers are on the programme which also teaches them to diversify into other farming activities including cash-crop and livestock production.
The idea, Mr Dwamena explained, is to give cocoa farmers an additional income in order to discourage them from farming in the forests.
This approach is strengthened by the fact that Touton is also an international trader of several other commodities, including coffee, vanilla, spices and ingredients.
The idea Mr Dwamena, explained was to give the cocoa farmers an additional income in order to discourage them from farming in the forests.
Young William Aboagye, who is the owner of one of Touton's demonstration farms in Juabeso, told the Daily Graphic that his farm had seen remarkable improvement in terms of the health of the farm and yield.
"There has been significant increase in yield from six to ten bags on my two- acre land cocoa farm since the program started last year", he stated.
As part of the Project (and the RSC service delivery model), Touton and GIZ (German development agency) have trained 16 service providers in the Juabeso district who among others provide pruninge, weeding, and spraying services using simple technologies from the GIZ. This provides employment opportunities for the youth in the landscape.
Touton and GIZ invested an initial capital of USD 120,000ghc65,000 for the exercise.
Football for the environment
Asempanaye and Boinzain, two major cocoa farming communities close to the Krokosua e Fforest, faced off with its fiercest neighbour, Boinzan in an exciting football match organised by Touton/3PRCL Project to draw attention of members of the communities in the Bia-Juabeso District to the environmental challenges while promoting collaboration between stakeholders in the landscape.
The Project is tackling the issues in the landscape through a teamwork approach and therefore chose to organise the symbolic football match between the two key forest-fringed communities. Players’ and match officials’ jerseys were branded with the names of cocoa/forest stakeholders, to symbolize the "Teamwork approach" between cocoa-forest communities, and public and private sectors to address deforestation. All came together under the ‘FCBJ’ insignia that stands for Forest Caretakers Bia-Juabeso.
Spectators included the chief of Asempanaye, Nana Kwao Asante Bediatuo II and chief of Boinzan, Nana Ntaadu II, TFA2020 field trip participants and members from both communities..
Though Asempanaye emerged victorious scoring 3 goals against 1 scored by Boinzan, t., Tthe two teams according to the Project Manager of 3PRCL, Mr Michael Poku-Marboah are both winners for the environment according to the Project Manager of 3PRCL, Mr Michael Poku-Marboah.
He said the future plan is to have some members of the team selected to support the Forestry Commission forest guards to protect the Forest Reserves against encroachment.
Touton is a leading agro-industrial actor. Our know-how builds on over 150 years’ experience of providing our customers with high quality commodities.
In addition to delivering responsibly-sourced cocoa, coffee, vanilla and natural ingredients, we are now increasing our engagement in commodity-producing countries through processing operations in cocoa.
With subsidiaries in originating regions, and agents in key locations, Touton’s strength lies in the skills of its workers, the cultural diversity of its teams, and a deep understanding of the countries in which the company operates.