Cocoa Life And Partners Taste Success In Forest Restoration Project
Scores of farmers participating in the Mondelez Cocoa Life-led Environmental Sustainability Project in Ghana are reported to be already reaping the benefits.
The project was designed by International’s sustainability wing, Cocoa Life, as part of efforts to restore and conserve forest cover in the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa.
It is being implemented in partnership with Ghana Cocoa Board, Forestry Commission and UNDP in 334 communities across 15 Ghanaian districts with beneficiaries said to total over 52,000 adults.
A recent report by UNDP Ghana points to significant success as participating farmers share their stories.
“This forest restoration initiative has given us access to food all year round. When cocoa is out of season, we rely on our plantain and vegetable harvest,” Grace Botwe, a cocoa farmer from Akwaduro, in the Asunafo North Municipal in the Ahafo Region of Ghana narrated.
According to the UNDP account, Grace has been farming for more than 30 years and she is one of the over 200 farmers working on a forest restoration initiative, under the Environmental Sustainability Project, to restore degraded areas in the Ayum Forest Reserve.
This forest was marked among many others said to be gradually losing its value and beautiful vegetation due to negative human activities including bush burning, deforestation, and other illegal activities.
With funding and technical support from Cocoa Life, the partners are working with farmers to restore degraded forests in a bid to scale up efforts contributing to Ghana’s climate action interventions.
“Being part of this initiative brings me so much fulfilment. I am happy to be part of the community members contributing to the restoration of our once degraded forest”, Naomi Nkansah, a 34-year-old farmer and beneficiary of the forest restoration project stated.
The Forest Restoration initiative is being implemented using the Modified Tungya System (MTS), whereby farmers are given access to degraded forest reserve land for the planting of economic trees.
The MTS allows for farmers to integrate the tree planting with selected food crops until tree canopy closure.
According to the partners, the system has become a legally binding land lease arrangement in which farmers are considered co-owners of the plantations with the Forestry Commission and are entitled to the MTS plots till the tree become mature.
Apart from its environmental benefits, the MTS also serves as an additional income generation venture for the participating farmers, including 40% share in proceeds of timber harvested from the plot.
UNDP described the project as an incentive to cocoa farmers to adopt environmentally sustainable production practices and to promote resilient and thriving communities with additional livelihoods options.
The forest restoration project, which is a scale-up of activities under the third intervention area of the Cocoa Life Program, presents vast opportunities due to the market and economic value of the harvested crops.
“I come all the way from Kumasi to purchase my plantain, which I sell at both Takoradi or sometimes in Kumasi market. We usually make profits and because it is straight from the farms, the plantains and cocoyams we buy from here are always fresh”, Dora Ansah, a market woman revealed.
The Society Manager of the Cocoa Cooperative Farmers’ Society at the Akwaduro, Owusu Apau, commended the formation of farmer groups as part of activities of the initiative to promote farmer organization and coordination.
“Under climate smart cocoa practices, farmers are diversifying their crops and ensuring the adoption of best farm practices resulting in enhanced productivity and consequent incomes. Under this initiative alone, Cocoa Life has distributed nearly 2million trees,” according to project officials.