A programme to transform Ghana’s Kakum cocoa-forest landscape into a more sustainable agroforestry area has been launched with a call on cocoa farmers to adopt climate-smart agroforestry practices to increase productivity.
Dubbed: “Kakum Cocoa Agroforestry Landscape Programme,” with the motto; “Our Forest, Our Cocoa, Our Future,” the programme is being implemented in two fringe communities of the Kakum National Park in the Assin South District.
It is being done in partnership with the Hershey Company, Ghana Cocoa Board, Forestry Commission, Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) and Ecom Agrotrade Limited.
The programme seeks, among other things, to develop landscape governance and management system to raise cocoa productivity and promote shaded cocoa agroforestry, reduce deforestation and forest degradation and diversify and improve farm income for long term sustainability.
In an overview, Dr Rebecca Asheley Asare, the Programmes Director of Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC), an implementing partner to the programme, said a research project undertaken prior to the start of the programme showed that Ghana had serious challenges with aforestation.
She said the Hershey Company and the other implementing partners were committed to preserving the ecosystem and would also plant trees across the farming landscape and work to diversify and improve incomes of farmers.
In addition to landscape governance, she said the implementing partners would engage in activities that will raise cocoa productivity through climate-smart cocoa agroforestry practices and help reduce deforestation of natural forest ecosystem.
Dr Asare said communities in the Assin South District were selected for the pilot programme due to the low cocoa yield in that area.
Mr Enoch Ashie, the Manager of the Kakum National Park, welcomed the initiative and said it would improve land use around the Kakum conservation area, reduce land disputes and strengthen the relationship between the fringe communities and other stakeholders.
He assured the partners of the Park’s commitment to ensuring the successful implementation of the programme and urged farmers in the beneficiary communities to collaborate with the implementing team for a successful outcome.
Mr Oduro-Baah, a Senior Technical Manager of CHED of CCOBOD, enumerated a number of measures in place to curb deforestation and degradation to include mass pruning, hand pollination, rehabilitation and irrigation schemes to balance cocoa productivity with forest protection.
Mr Emmanuel Boadi, an Assembly Member and a sub-chief of Assin Kruwa, admitted that climate change was affecting farming, especially cocoa farming, and expressed the optimism that the programme would go a long way to benefit farmers in the implementing communities.