The Brong Ahafo Regional Manager of the Cocoa Health Extension Division of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Emmanuel Nii Tackie-Otoo, has called for the modification of agricultural practices to ensure a holistic production management system which seeks to promote and enhances agro-ecosystem health in the face of global warming.
“It is critical that agricultural practices be modified to ensure holistic production management system, which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity and soil biological activity to maximise environment impacts for sustainable production,” he stated.
He said there was enough evidence, from both historical trends and future projections that if Ghana was to remain viable in the business of cocoa and to break out of the vicious hunger and poverty, then environmentally sustainable cocoa production was the way to go.
Dr Tackie-Otoo gave the advice at a durbar at Goaso in the Asunafo North municipality to mark the 10th anniversary of the introduction of activities of the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) in Ghana.
Climate Investment Fund
The CIF is a donor-supported agent of global climate action, helping financial transformations in clean technology, energy access, climate resilience and sustainable forests across 72 developing and middle-income countries with a portfolio of more than 300 projects.
In Ghana, the fund is supporting various projects with a total of $75 million for the harnessing of the sun for renewable energy and the sustainable management of climate-smart development that benefits its people, ecology and economy.
As part of the programme, cocoa farmers are being encouraged to plant trees on their farms and nurture them so that they could sell them in future to make profit.
Effects of climate change
Addressing the durbar, Dr Tackie-Otoo stated that COCOBOD was deeply concerned with the threat of climate change and its effect on sustainable cocoa production.
He explained that even though a number of flagship programmes had been initiated to enhance productivity, they would not be achieved “if we lose our focus on environmentally sustainable cocoa production that would adapt and build resilience to the threat to climate change and its effect on the cocoa ecology”.
“We believe that if cocoa farmers adopt good agricultural practices, there will be no need expanding their farms into the already depleted forest areas, since they can increase their production on the existing land that was bequeathed them by their forefathers,” Dr Tackie-Otoo said.
He explained that as part of the programme, COCOBOD, through the Forestry Commission had distributed a quantity of fast-growing trees such as Terminalia species to cocoa farmers to plant in their newly-established, young farms and even older farms where there was a break in canopy of the cocoa farms.
Dr Tackie-Otoo said evidence from the field indicated that most of the trees had been well established and were growing well and attributed the success to the assurance of the implementation of the Tree Ownership Certificate that would empower the farmers to own such trees without any timber merchant cutting them down to destroy their cocoa farms in addition.
He entreated cocoa farmers who were not yet hooked onto the programme to embrace the idea of incorporating tree establishments in cocoa cultivation, adding that “in as much as we want to increase production, we must do it in harmony with sound environmental practices in order not to cause harm to the ecology upon which the cocoa plant depends for survival”.
Dr Tackie-Otoo announced that there were plans to institute award schemes for farmers who adopted and implemented the recommended 15-18 trees per hectare in their cocoa farms to serve as a motivation to other farmers to include tree planting in their cocoa production activities.
For her part, the Head of the CIF, Ms Mafalda Duarte, described climate change as “the challenge of our time” since it affected everyone everywhere.