Sustainable Production of Cocoa and Forest Protection

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Sustainable Production of Cocoa and Forest Protection

The story of 3PRCL interventions to achieve deforestation free and climate smart cocoa among Juaboso – Bia landscape cocoa farmers

Ghana, since 2008, has added her voice to global discussion on climate change and its consequences for planet earth. Those global discussions gave birth to the 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) Initiative. Ghana signed unto this initiative with 47 other developing countries including Argentina and Thailand, making them REDD+ participants. Ghana then sought to implement her commitments through the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP). As Ghana began implementing the GCFRP, over 14 chocolate companies, under the auspices of the Prince of Wales Foundation, committed themselves to work towards a deforestation-free cocoa supply chain.  Being one of the leading cocoa producers, Ghana had to implement strategies to align herself with the commitments of the 14 chocolate companies as well. The Partnership for Productivity, Protection and Resilience in Cocoa Landscape (3PRCL) was then initiated.

The 3PRCL Project is the first pilot of the GCFRP implementation. The project is a public-private partnership consisting of Touton SA, Forestry Commission of Ghana, Ghana COCOBOD, SNV Dutch Development Cooperation, Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC), Agro-Eco and co-funded by P4F (Partnership for Forests). The goal of the Project is to ultimately increase cocoa productivity through three objectives: forest conservation (including deforestation monitoring), institution and implementation of a climate smart cocoa production standard and setting up of a landscape governance structure. Since its inception in 2017, significant progress has been made in all three objectives.

Deforestation challenge within the Forest Reserves across the Bia-Juabeso landscape is being tackled through the combined use of technology and social efforts. Monitoring and prevention of deforestation has been a major challenge for the Ghana Forestry Commission. These challenges have been both on the technological and social fronts. In terms of technology, the challenge was how to delineate cocoa from forests using remote sensing techniques. On the social front, it was difficult how to identify, profile and evict illegal farmers from the Forest Reserves.  Through machine learning, the project has now been able to accurately delineate cocoa from open forest, identify various shades of cocoa agro-forest, detect deforestation associated with cocoa farming, and pin-point cocoa farms within the forest reserves across the Bia-Juabeso landscape. An alert system is being designed which will be installed in the satellite such that there will be an automatic trigger whenever a certain threshold of forest is cleared. A framework has therefore been developed to combine satellite based Near Real Time (NRT) forest monitoring and community-based forest monitoring activities, as well as law enforcement by forest sector stewards.

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On the social front, the Forest Reserve Encroachment Remediation Committee (FRERCO) – a committee of chiefs (traditional rulers) in the Bia-Juaboso landscape – has been constituted to help the Forestry Commission identify, map and profile all farms (both legal and illegal) in the Forest Reserves for remediation. FRERCO has also committed itself to facilitate the remediation processes. This is seen as a giant step in the effort against encroachment into Forest Reserves as the FC has been trying to achieve this for almost 6 decades.

Under the Project, a Climate Smart Cocoa Standard on best practices for of climate smart cocoa production has been developed. This covers best agricultural, social and environmental practices, as well as UTZ code conduct and climate smart principles. Based on this over 12,000 farmers in over 300 communities have been trained resulting in the introduction of over 80,000 shade tree seedlings on 1,000 ha of cocoa farms under the Timber in cocoa Agroforestry (TiCA).

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The Project has developed and is piloting a landscape-wide governance framework as part of efforts to reverse the trend of deforestation and contribute to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The landscape governance structure stretches from the community to the landscape level to oversee land use management, forest protection, improved cocoa productivity and farmers’ livelihoods. Aside garnering support from the local farmers/communities to reduce deforestation, the Project has introduced cocoa rehabilitation and improved farmers’ access to finance through the structure. Some chiefs and opinion leaders have been included in the structure to serve as patrons. It is important to note that chiefs wield a lot more power in rural settings than government agencies, hence their coming on board is a bold, major and right step in the fight against deforestation.

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With the concerted efforts of farmers, community members, chiefs, implementing partners and other stakeholders, the implementation of these intervention will ensure a deforestation free cocoa supply chain. The successes and lessons of these interventions in the Bia-Juaboso landscape will be replicated in other landscapes with similar challenges. The ripple effect of these successes will decrease deforestation in the country significantly, increase cocoa yields in Ghana, and help government of Ghana fulfil her REDD+ commitments.

Partnership for Productivity Protection & Resilience in Cocoa Landscapes - Adm