Esther Dede and Kofi Ebenezer are a couple from the Ghana Western North region. They are married and parents of seven children. Both of them own lands and work as cocoa farmers.
Esther and Kofi are participants of a cocoa sustainability program run by a company that is a member of the Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI).
In Ghana, like in other Western African countries, the cocoa production is linked to several challenges. Aging cocoa trees with poor productivity pushed cocoa farmers to look for more fertile land in protected forests. Climate change is also affecting farmers with shifting rainfall patterns and making some agricultural regions more vulnerable.
Esther is very conscious and has seen the impact on her farm: “We’ve lost a lot of our forest cover, and this has reduced how much rainfall we get, and now cocoa trees are dying because they don’t get enough rain and the sun gets too hot.”
By being part of the cocoa sustainability program, Esther and Kofi were able to benefit from several projects including farm rejuvenation and agroforestry. On-farm rejuvenation is done via cocoa seedlings distribution to farmers. Underplanting allows the young seedling to be protected by the older one until it gets strong enough to replace it. The young trees are more productive generating more income for the farmers.
Shade management in a cocoa farm is essential to protect the young cocoa trees from too intense sun, and helps keep the soil moist and rich, improving the productivity of cocoa trees. Through the agroforestry project, Esther and Kofi have benefited from coaching and seedlings distribution for their cocoa farms. As Esther says, these trees will protect the seedlings and enrich the soil: “We plant banana and plantain trees near our cocoa seedlings, so that when the rain comes, they help the seedlings get more water. We also plant beans in the dry season to help enrich the soil.”
Esther, Kofi and the other community members are very enthusiastic about these projects. They see several benefits including improved cocoa income and additional source of revenues with the other trees but not only as Kofi says: “One thing I like about shade trees is that when you return from the farm on a hot afternoon, you can just sit under a tree and relax!”
The aim is to continue expanding these projects throughout cocoa farming communities and keep supporting farmers, like Esther and Kofi, to improve their livelihoods. Kofi says: “Now, we are able to take better care of our children. We have also started building a 5 bedroom house in Krobo, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where we originally come from. We can see our lives progressing and my marriage is thriving. My wife is very happy. We are very happy.”