Thirty-year-old Janet Awuku lives in Wuruyie, a community of 600 people in the Ashanti region of Ghana. A mother of… Read More
Comfort Owusuaa and Isaac Boafo are two cocoa farmers from Assin Bereku, in central Ghana. In this region, where cocoa production is the major source of income, the Cocoa & Forests Initiative supports farmers with actions to improve their livelihoods, while protecting their environment and local forests.
Comfort and Isaac benefitted from training by agronomists to cultivate vegetables with a double objective to improve nutrition in the community and generate extra income, especially during light crop seasons.
Comfort, 48, explains, “My husband passed away, which means that I own and manage my own cocoa farm to feed my 10 children. I was looking for new ways to provide for my family, when in December 2019, I decided to try the training program to grow vegetables on top of cocoa. The agronomists distributed vegetables seedlings to me and many other farmers in the community. I sat up a one-acre vegetable farm and applied the vegetable farming techniques that I learned. After only four months of cultivation, I was really happy when I sold my okro and tomatoes’ harvest: I made 2000 Ghana Cedis (approx. 290 euros)!”
Isaac continues, “I started cocoa farming in my own plantation 10 years ago, and I work also as a cocoa purchasing clerk. I like to diversify my possibilities to take good care of my wife and child. This is why I joined the vegetable farming program in 2019. Selling the tomatoes that I cultivated myself on one acre of land got me 5500 Ghana cedis this season (approx. 797 euros)!”
A total of 96 farmers, including 58 women, benefitted from diversifying crop production. More revenues and nutritional benefits should come from the recent distribution of eggplant and pepper seedlings. New income generating opportunities are important as they lessen the need for cocoa farmers in the region to cut local forests for expanding cocoa plantations.
Improving the yield of existing cocoa trees is another key to preventing deforestation. This is achieved by teaching good agricultural and agroforestry practices, such as planting shade trees and nursing cocoa seedlings.
Comfort explains, “The shade trees that I planted are helping my cocoa grow better and stop them from dying. I look forward to reviving my cocoa plantation with new trees that I will get from the nursery we set up. I wanted to join the shade tree and cocoa nursery groups because I know this is important and I hope other farmers in the community and my children will understand it too.”
Isaac adds, “Since I planted the shade trees, I can definitely see the positive impact on the environment and the yield of my cocoa plantation. I receive great support from local sustainability staff who help me with running the day-to-day activities. I advocate for planting shade trees and renewing cocoa trees by taking part into the cocoa nursery initiative. This is all positive and there is nothing that will make me quit these new ways of cultivating cocoa in a climate smart way.”