Participants of the 2018 Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA2020) General Assembly held in Accra journeyed to the Bia-Juabeso Districts on 12th and 13th May 2018 to see for themselves the implementation of the Productivity Protection and Resilience in Cocoa Landscapes (3PRCL) Project.
The objective was to showcase activities and initiatives being undertaken to achieve deforestation-free cocoa production – improving cocoa productivity and farmers’ living conditions while reducing deforestation and forest degradation within a sustainable landscape. The 3PRCL project directly speaks to priority 4 of the Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020, in that it seeks to sustainably increase smallholder yields in cocoa.
The 30 participants were from 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.
Participants visited one of Touton's multipurpose Rural Service Centres (Akuafo Yiedie Fie - Farmers’s Wellbeing House). The RSCs are agro-service delivery hubs providing a variety of support services to farmers to produce more and better cocoa sustainably, and to improve their livelihoods.
Mr Dwamena (Touton Country Manager - Ghana, Sustainable Sourcing) spoke to field-trip participants about the benefits of the RSCs which include helping farmers to appropriately apply fertilizer, compost and approved agro-chemicals on their cocoa trees. In addition, financial education curricula allows 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 2.1 per cent per month for farmers to buy agricultural inputs during the peak farming season. The RSC also serves as an input shop where Cocobod-approved agrochemicals and other agricultural inputs are sold to farmers.
Field trip participants also visited one of Touton’s demonstration farms in Jubeso district and interacted with service providers. 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 provide pruning, weeding, and spraying services using simple technologies from the GIZ. This provides employment opportunities for the youth in the landscape.
Young William Aboagye, who is the owner of one of Touton's demonstration farms in Juabeso, stated 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 cocoa farm since the program started last year", he stated.
The field trip included visits to the Krokosua forest reserve, an abandoned illegal mining site, a hike through Bia National Park at Kumkumso and ended with a symbolic football match between Asempanaye and Boinzain, two major cocoa farming communities close to the Krokosua Forest.
The exciting football match was 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, the two teams 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.