Esi Nkrumah, 66, is a cocoa farmer from the village of Pewodi, in Nsokoté, Ghana. Apart from cocoa, she also grows plantain, casava and palm trees, which she sells in order to have an additional income source. But cocoa is still her most important crop, and her primary source of income. This year, Esi has been involved in TreeSeal, an initiative that is mapping and registering forest trees on cocoa farms to ensure farmers have the legal rights to the trees that they plant and grow. TreeSeal is part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to combat deforestation in West Africa.
Despite the importance of forest trees, farmers often fear planting or maintaining them because they lack legal ownership over them. This puts the trees at risk of exploitation by timber contractors. These corporations are known to cut down forest trees without farmers’ consent, destroying cocoa farms in the process. TreeSeal uses satellite-based mapping software to map the locations and species of all forest trees on participating farmers’ land. These are then registered, and farmers receive legal ownership documents for the trees.
“TreeSeal is very important to me as I have had cases where my trees have been removed from my farm without my consent. They destroyed my cocoa trees and left me with nothing. I think shade tree registration will help a lot of farmers like me avoid these types of situations,” Esi Nkrumah explained.