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Cocoa for conservation in Ghana

Gerlind Vollmer
February 10, 2022

Cocoa cultivated in Ghana's forests is encroaching on natural ecosystems. Boosting the productivity of existing plantations could keep their expansion in check.

Farmers with harvested cocoa fruit in a tropical forest in Ghana
A good cocoa harvest could for farmers in the Bia district of western GhanaImage: DW/Gerlind Vollmer

Cocoa farming in Ghana

Ghana is the world's second-largest exporter of cocoa, but many farmers of the crop struggle. They are mostly smallholders with aging plantations that are susceptible to disease, and drought brought on by climate change is making life even more difficult. Most earn only about $2 (Є1.75) a day, and many younger people are leaving their communities in search of prospects elsewhere.

In western Ghana's Bia District, the Dutch development organization SNV is trying to reverse this trend. It helps cocoa farmers revive their plantations, and trains them in effective, eco-friendly farming techniques.

Smallholder farmers such as Orlando Osmanu, who joined the program in 2016, are now able to make a good living from cocoa farming. Osmanu's son is also setting up his own plantation. On our third visit to the region, Global Ideas has found that there are now quite a few young cocoa farmers in the village of Nsowakron. Has the tide turned?

A film by Gerlind Vollmer and Richard Ocloo.  

Project objective: Conservation and sustainable use of forest resources in the high forests of Ghana. The main aim is to better balance increasing cocoa cultivation with forest protection. Among other things, communities are working with cocoa companies, smallholder farmers and local authorities to develop deforestation-free supply chains.

Orlando Osmanu on his sustainable cocoa plantation in Bia District, western Ghana
Smallholder Orlando Osmanu on his sustainable cocoa plantationImage: Richard Ocloo

Project partners: The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) is implementing in collaboration with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana and the Forestry Commission of Ghana's Ministry of Agriculture, among other partners. The project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI)

Project duration: January 2016 to December 2021

Budget: The German Federal Ministry for the Environment is funding the project with about Є2.2 million.