Obed is a cocoa farmer from Tebeso, Konongo District, in central Ghana. He comes from a family of cocoa farmers and has worked on the family farm since he was a child. At that time, Tebeso was surrounded by forest, but now almost all the forest cover has been lost through farming and commercial logging. This has had a dramatic effect on the local climate and led to erratic rainfall patterns, high temperatures, unusually prolonged dry seasons, and land degradation.
Despite his hard work, Obed found it difficult to make a decent living from cocoa farming, and he struggled to feed his family of nine children. To improve his farming practices and productivity, he joined the Tebeso farmers’ group and is now part of the Accessible Soils and Sustainable Environments (ASASE) project.
ASASE is an innovative model with six strongly interconnected interventions that reinforce each other. It moves away from the traditional focus on the direct (farm-level) supply chain. Instead, it intervenes on three levels with a landscape approach: collaborating with cocoa farmers, their rural communities, and local forest remnants beyond the cocoa farms.
Through the ASASE project, Obed receives training in Climate Smart Cocoa and individual coaching to make a long-term development plan for his farm. He now understands the importance of practising cocoa agroforestry and also receives shade trees, which are helping him to protect his cocoa trees from harsh sunlight and reduce the impact of climate change. In the long term, this will also help him to improve the quality and yield of his cocoa beans. He has planted 55 native shade trees, which were provided to him under the ASASE project and is taking care of the 8 other trees that were already on the farm.
But the benefits of the project don’t stop there. Obed also received support to register his land and trees and will soon receive his land and tree registration titles. With this tenure security, he can stop worrying about losing his land or trees, which had been a constant concern in the past.
Furthermore, it will enable him to plan for the long term and make investments in his farm without fear of losing everything. It will also help him improve his farming practices even further, which can increase his income and protect the environment and preserve the land for future generations of his family.
“In the past I have cut down most of the shade trees on my cocoa plots, but after the training I received, I realised how valuable they are and now I’m planting more with the support of the project.” – Obed Ahoto
By providing farmers like Obed with training and land tenure, the ASASE project aims for a bottom-up approach with tangible direct benefits for farmers and the environment.
ASASE is a four-year public-private partnership project implemented by ETG | Beyond Beans, Meridia, Tropenbos Ghana and the Ghanaian Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources with funding from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Ferrero, amongst others. Activities include land titling and shade tree registration for 3,000 farmers, the distribution and planting of more than 600,000 multipurpose tree seedlings for on- and off-farm planting, and the reforestation of 100 hectares of degraded lands such as informal ‘galamsey’ gold mining sites.