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In Ghana, farmers try to boost ailing cocoa production

Gerlind Vollmer
February 12, 2019

Cocoa farming is the first step in making the world's most popular sweet treat: chocolate. But in one top cocoa producing nation, yields have been plummeting for years. What can be done to boost production in Ghana?

A man sorting through cocoa beans
Image: DW/Gerlind Vollmer

Ghana: Dying cocoa plantations

Project goal: Modernizing cocoa farming in Ghana by improving growing conditions for new trees and helping farmers to overcome lean times.

Project size: Some 750 farmers are preparing their fields for new trees. Four tree nurseries are being built to grow 600,000 new cacao trees. Approximately 20,000 shade trees will also be planted.

Project partners: SNV Netherlands Development Organisation – Smart Development Works, International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Project budget: The initiative is part of a larger project taking place in Vietnam, Peru and Ghana, which IKI has financed with €1,966,384 ($2,243,791).

Ghana is one of the world's largest cocoa exporters. However, it could lose its standing in light of the fact that badly managed plantations and severe drought have sent yields plummeting. Small farmers growing the treasured pods — from which chocolate is ultimately derived — have been using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and clearing woodland to boost production.

Better planting methods would negate the need for such strategies. Dutch non-profit development organization SNV is working with Ghanaian farmers to change the way the crop is farmed in the country. They're encouraging farmers to plant shade trees, which keep the cacao plants cool and reduce the need for watering. Farmers are planting banana and cassava plants to supplement their incomes.

A film by Gerlind Vollmer