Portia Sani is a 32-year-old cocoa farmer from Sefwi Elluokrom in the Western North region of Ghana. She successfully manages her own cocoa farm as well as a family of six, including four children. Her farm is part of Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) activities and has seen significant yield improvements since Portia started implementing agroforestry, planting shade trees, and getting ownership documentation for her trees.
Portia said, “I heard about landscape management and the tree tenure initiative in 2018 and decided to get involved to learn how to better sustain my cocoa farm. Three years later, I realize that the shade trees have really helped my cocoa fruits grow well. The shade trees serve both as a sun and a wind break that protects the cocoa branches. Comparing with neighboring farms, which are not part of the program, I realize that they face many more difficulties during the dry season. Their cocoa trees end up in very bad shapes, and sometimes even die!”
Portia and her community of cocoa farmers were briefed about the positive impact of shade trees but also the added advantages of owning the trees (tree tenure). Tree tenure opens the door for easier access to financial services, such as loans to buy good quality seedlings or inputs, to manage cocoa farms and ecosystems more sustainably. She receives support from CFI partners for the planting, maintenance of the trees, and tenure paperwork. She has also become an advocate for the program, mentoring other farmers who have lost cocoa trees due to last year’s drought.
“Going through the tree documentation process is not easy, but I am happy to pursue this initiative and hope to get the trees registered under my own name to prevent unlawful cutting of them. My husband is also very supportive with this process. I plan on continuing with this program: not only to fully own the trees, but also to plant more of them on my farm and teach this technique to my children and other farmers in the community,” she said.
In addition to the tree tenure program, Portia is also engaged in vegetable farming and soap production for the community to further diversify her income.