A Story On Environment In Ghana
"Our Efforts Enable And Encourage Cocoa Farmers To Move Toward More Sustainable 'Green Production' Principles."

By Atsu Titiati, Project Coordinator for Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana (ESP)

Ghana supplies about 20 percent of the world's cocoa. However, poor agricultural practices have left this country's crop vulnerable to deforestation and resource depletion, impacting its future sustainability. To reverse this trend and ensure a sustainable future for the region's cocoa production, the Cocoa Life program is working with the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana (ESP) project, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and cocoa traders. Atsu Titiati, Project Coordinator for ESP, shares insights regarding these efforts:


Ghana's cocoa landscape has changed dramatically in recent decades. Some areas which were once occupied with high-moisture forest have been grossly deforested, resulting in the gradual intrusion of grassland and changing micro-climatic conditions that are not capable of supporting profitable cocoa production. Current production practices are generally unsustainable and continue to worsen the cycle of environmental degradation, posing a significant threat to farmers' livelihoods. These unsustainable practices, which include continued crop expansion into forested areas and the use of unapproved chemical pesticides, are a potential roadblock to the long-term development of cocoa farming in Ghana.

At ESP, in partnership with Cocoa Life, we are working to address environmental sustainability issues in hundreds of Ghana's cocoa-growing communities. Our efforts center on conserving the natural ecosystems to maintain and provide viable environments and farmland for future generations. These efforts enable and encourage cocoa farmers to move toward more sustainable "green production" principles.

Partnerships across the cocoa production industry are crucial to the success of our long-term efforts. Therefore we work directly with government agencies, including the Forestry and Lands Commissions, the Land Administration Project (LAP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), COCOBOD, Ghana Cocoa Platform (GCP), and other actors. Together, we implement national strategies for sustainable environmental management, including the UN programme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), ensuring that field-level realities feed into national dialogues and policies.

The UNDP believes in incorporating community-based approaches to natural resources management in order to address problems at the broader regional level. To that end, we are piloting Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) in 36 communities within the Asunafo North cocoa region. CREMAs serve as natural resource management and planning tools that are the basis for community initiatives.

One major initiative that Cocoa Life has supported is the reintroduction of native shade trees to cocoa farms as part of efforts to conserve biodiversity and enhance biophysical conditions on cocoa fields. Since 2014, more than 787,000 economic tree seedlings have been distributed to more than 9,600 cocoa farmers. It is gratifying to report that seedling planting and survival rates are about 90 percent and 95 percent, respectively.


© Photography by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)


© Photography by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)

Simultaneously, we're hosting farmer training workshops through the Cocoa Life program and in coordination with training programs developed by the COCOBOD. Community extension agents from COCOBOD and more than 1,400 cocoa farmers including chiefs, assemblymen, and women from the seven local districts have been trained on more sustainable farming practices.

As a result of ESP's efforts, cocoa farmers in the Cocoa Life operational areas are gradually moving away from their old farming methods, which placed no value on environmental sustainability, and embracing green production practices.

Next Generation
From Our Partner World Vision Ghana

"To ensure youth interest in the cocoa supply chain, provide access to planting materials, and create jobs, cocoa life created thirteen youth groups in the wassa east district. The youth groups develop cocoa nurseries in their communities and some members go on to join cocoa farming societies. After successfully nurturing 600 seedlings, 25-year-old janet otabil established her own cocoa; she now is the proud owner of a one-and-a-half-acre cocoa farm."

Emmanuel Aboagye, Development Facilitator, World Vision Ghana (WVG)

From Our Partner UNDP

"Cocoa Life is a globally important and innovative program to promote and scale up sustainable cocoa by providing technical support and best practices via Mondelēz International’s supply chains and partners. The program promotes environmental sustainability at the farmer, community, and national levels, focusing on reducing deforestation and promoting the use of shade trees on cocoa farms. Cocoa Life is advancing strategies to increase scale. This should result in a major contribution to carbon emission reduction and make cocoa farms more sustainable and resilient to climate change."

Andrew Bovarnick, Lead Natural Resource Economist and Global Head, United Nations Development Programme’s Green Commodities Programme, and Cocoa Life advisor