Rainforest Alliance (RA) has introduced the Community Listening Program (CLP) in the Western North Region of Ghana as part of its efforts to help address challenges hampering the cocoa and forestry sectors in the country.
The program was launched in Sefwi Datano and will be implemented in areas where RA operates in the country.
Country Director for Rainforest Alliance Ghana, Kwame Osei, said the objective of the program is to get the inputs and feedback more systematically from those at the centre of their mission.
He explained that the work of Rainforest Alliance is to cultivate rural prosperity, bring real, measurable benefits for farmers, forest communities, and indigenous peoples around the world.
Mr Osei said RA works with millions of farmers and with forest communities all over the world to promote sustainable and climate-smart practices and improve livelihoods, both of which are critical to building farm and farmer resilience, reducing deforestation, and increasing biodiversity.
“We work with forest community members, smallholder farmers, farmworkers, and farm owners to ensure Rainforest Alliance programs reflects their needs and interest on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Chief Programme Officer, Rainforest Alliance, Ria Stout explained that the program will enable them to receive honest and open feedback at the community level in the local language.
She added that the birth of this innovative approach to listening to communities will allow the Rainforest Alliance and its partners to get to the core of what matters most to the farmer.
“Farmers issues are on my heart and I believe that sustainable agriculture, and a targeted set of innovations, the Farm Requirements can help farmers produce better crops, adapt to climate change, increase their productivity, set goals to achieve their sustainability performance and target investments to address their greatest risks,” she pointed out.
Senior Director Africa for Rainforest Alliance, Rene Magermans, indicated that they are introducing this program because it is an essential tool to support sustainable agricultural production and protect the forest.
“Through dialogue with farming and forest communities, we will distil and analyze their feedback on the effectiveness of our mission delivery and incorporate it into all aspects of our work,” he indicated.
Divisional Chief of Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Council and Patron of the Landscape Management Boards (LMBs), Nana Kofi Nkuah II, speaking on behalf of the farmers revealed that programs implemented by the Rainforest Alliance have helped reduce rural poverty in the area.
He used the opportunity to thank the Rainforest Alliance for helping build an alliance to protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
“In the area of restoration and preservation of forests and biodiversity, I am very happy that Rainforest Alliance together with its partners and communities raised and distributed over 200,000 tree seedlings from 2018 to 2021.
These seedlings have been planted on fallow lands and agroforestry systems covering an area of over 1,500 hectares.
In addition, four community nurseries have been established in the Sui landscape, and managed by the Landscape Management Boards (LMBs) to supply tree seedlings as a means of contributing to the mitigation of climate change and restoring degraded landscapes,” he said.
In attendance at the program launch were Abena Dufie Woode (Senior Project Manager for Landscapes and Environmental Agility Across the Landscape), Kwadwo Nti Baniako (Manager, Landscapes and Communities), Boamah Raymond (Sefwi Wiawso Forest District Manager), officials of COCOBOD, officials of MoFA and some cocoa farmers in the Sefwi Wiawso District who all took part in the Community Listening Program.