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In Ghana’s cocoa industry, a strong push to make farms ‘climate-smart’

 

November 7, 2017

 

cocoa

 

A consortium involving the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Rainforest Alliance, Root Capital, and the Sustainable Food Lab is gaining ground to ensure Ghana’s most important crop — cacao — survives, thrives, and even contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions despite climate change.

 

The organizations are working to promote climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices for the country’s cocoa farmers. CSA is an approach that enables farmers to produce more while adapting to the changing climate and cutting down GHG emissions. The efforts in Ghana is part of the consortium’s broader goal to ensure CSA goes beyond pilot projects and achieves wider adoption.

 

Climate change, according to projections, is due to dramatically alter the landscape of cocoa farming in the West African country — currently one of the world’s largest producers of the crop, which is the key ingredient in chocolate. Regions that produce a significant share of cocoa today, like Sunyani in the west of the country, are likely to become unsuitable for cocoa production by 2050 as a result of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

 

“You can’t ignore climate change: 2050 is coming quicker than you think, and if you want a solution by then, you need to plan it now,” said Christian Bunn, a postdoctoral fellow at CIAT who is leading the research to define areas that share common climate change hazards so climate adaptation can be achieved at scale.

 

“Such a proactive stance is particularly important for climate-sensitive crops like cacao, which hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in the country depend on as their main source of income,” Bunn continued. “People always say that this or that issue is more urgent, but don’t consider that even if we had heat- and drought-tolerant cacao varieties available today, and a system to distribute them to farmers, it would take more than 20 years to replace existing plantations. But we don’t have these varieties, and we don’t have such a system. For that reason, it’s vital to look at CSA practices that can be implemented quickly and effectively.”

 

Under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, teams headed by Rainforest Alliance climate expert Martin Noponen and IITA’s Laurence Jassogne have come up with different packages of climate-smart practices depending on the needs of particular farms. Some farms would need to plant more trees to provide necessary shade for cacao plants, while others may have no other choice but to cultivate other crops. The creation of the packages followed field visits to cocoa-producing communities, consultations with local residents and leaders, and assessments of how the changing climate is predicted to affect these areas.

 

The packages are part of the training that Rainforest Alliance will provide to cocoa farmers going forward. This is to ensure they are meeting the climate criteria set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network Standard, which seeks to conserve biodiversity and improve the well-being of people in the rural areas. By adhering to the criteria, farms receive the famous green frog seal, which may raise incomes for growers due to higher prices that products using certified cacao command.

 

Also, following a push by Rainforest Alliance, there’s now an informal working group on climate action in agriculture focusing on CSA within the ISEAL Alliance, the global association of organizations that certify farms for meeting desirable environmental, social, and economic standards. The working group is a first for ISEAL in relation to climate change.

 

Last year, Rainforest Alliance approached ISEAL about the possibility of creating a climate-smart agriculture working group, where it can share lessons learned from the project with its peers. At the start of 2017, ISEAL heeded Rainforest Alliance’s call. Although the committee isn’t official yet, a work plan is being developed. In August, ISEAL hosted a webinar where Bunn, together with Rainforest Alliance’s Martin Noponen and Hélène Roy, made a detailed presentation of the project, including outputs, CSA packages, and mapping of climate risks facing Ghana’s cocoa-producing regions.

 

“We’re looking to share learnings across the ISEAL community around this [climate-smart agriculture], and across ISEAL members and standards,” David D’Hollander, policy and outreach coordinator at ISEAL, said during the webinar.

 

This milestone means another step closer to the consortium’s goal of reaching Ghana’s 800,000 cocoa producers to prevent what could be a threatening scenario for the industry in the coming decades.

 

In addition, Rainforest Alliance is collaborating with the World Cocoa Foundation to develop a series of climate-smart training add-ons using the CCAFS-developed climate-smart packages. The add-ons would complement the foundation’s updated cocoa extension service training that was jointly developed with Ghana Cocoa Board, or Cocobod, a government-controlled institution that fixes the price of cocoa and sells farm inputs. The training modules aim to provide extension workers or lead farmers with guidance on how and what to communicate and recommend to other farmers depending on the climate change-related risk they face.

 

“Once we start implementing this information into the broadly accepted sector-wide harmonized training and are able to scale this with the many involved stakeholders going forward, I think the project will have a large positive impact on productivity and resilience through addressing specific climate hazards in Ghana,” said Noponen.

 

 

Source: agricinghana.com

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Cassava farmers, gari processors In Asueyi receive training

 

November 7, 2017

 

cassava

 

SNV Ghana, in collaboration with the Natural Resource Institute of the Greenwich University-UK, has organized series of Farmer Field Forums (FFF) on cassava production for farmers in Asueyi in the Techiman Municipality.

 

The initiative is under the Increasing the Performance of the Cassava Industry in West and Central Africa (IPCI-WCA) Project which is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 

The year-long training is aimed at equipping farmers with knowledge on improved agronomic practices to help farmers maximize yields on their farms so as to be able to provide sustainable raw material supply to a 7 ton per day gari processing plant built in Asueyi to industrialize gari production and improve the lives of cassava farmers in the Techiman catchment area.

 

 

The project which fits into the government’s flagship one district one factory policy, was initiated by the Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Project under the PROVACA project with IPC-WCA intending to maximise its benefits.

 

Asueyi is a one of the 19 communities that constitute the Techiman Municipality in the Brong Ahafo Region. Before the 1983 fire outbreak that destroyed their farms, Asueyi was predominantly a cocoa growing community. All efforts to revive cocoa farming in the community proved futile as their lands were no longer suitable for cocoa cultivation. In the absence of cocoa, cassava came to the rescue. The Asueyi community, is now known for the production of several hundreds of tons of cassava. The Challenge for the cassava farmers has, over the years, been how to add value to their produce.

 

This led many of them to resort to Gari production albeit on smaller scales. The processing plant when completed, will help residents of Asueyi to produce gari in larger commercial quantities free of health and other risks, given that their current production relies heavily on inefficient cook stoves.

 

The Renewable Energy Advisor at SNV Mr Dramani Bukari says the plant would avoid the unsightly pile of cassava waste around the gari processing vicinity in Asueyi, as the cassava peels would now be used as feedstock to the plant, which would moderate the negative effects of gari processing on the environmental conditions of the area. It would also completely remove the deleterious health effects of smoke inhalation, which characterizes their current production. “To him sustainability is key for the 120kW gasification plant which is expected to more than double production or increase production by some 60% from the current production levels of 3.0tones a day to about 7.5tones a day which is why SNV under this project has organized this series of Farmer Field Fora FFF) for cassava farmers in Asueyi and its surrounding communities so they can meet cassava supply requirements to the plant”, Mr Dramani told reporters.

 

Training

At one of the model farms, Agriculture experts took beneficiary farmers through how to apply improved agronomic practices in the three major phases of cassava crop production so as to be able to maximize their yield. Mr. Joseph Yeboah, an Agriculture expert and agric consultant for the SNV/IFAD cassava project said the training included phases such as land selection, preparation, planting material selection, weeding, fertilizer application/mulching and refilling and harvesting as well as crop yield assessment.

 

In addition, a business development and entrepreneurial training was held for the processors in Asueyi.

 

Safety

Ishmael Lante, an environmental scientist, with SAL Consult, said a thorough environmental impact and risk assessment has been done on the gasifiction plant and the workers will be taken through thorough training before they begin work.

 

Health

As part of measures to ensure that the gari produced meets international standards healthy conditions for mass food production, a medical screening was conducted by the Techiman Municipal health Directorate on the farmers and gari processors. Mr Seth Baako, a laboratory assistant, with the health Directorate said the screening was to enable the Municipal health Directorate to issue medical licenses to clear the processors as medically fit or otherwise for wholesome food production.

 

Practical production

Having passed the medical exams, the farmers and gari processors were taken through scientific methods of preventing competition between their cassava crops and weeds as a well as how to maintain the farm. According to Mr. Joseph Yeboah, this phase is a multiple effect stage as the yielding capacity of the cassava depends heavily on how well weeding, mulching/fertilizer application as well as refilling is done on the farm.

 

To climax the training, harvesting and crop yield assessment was done on the demonstration farm to assess the yielding ability of the various varieties planted for farmers settle on the appropriate variety that best suits their farm soil.

 

The farmers and gari processors in the Asueyi Community say they are now confident that in the coming years, they will make a significant contribution to the country’s economy.

 

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

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Cocoa: Dr. Antwi-Danso upbeat about Ghana-Ivory Coast collaboration

 

October 20, 2017

 

Cocoa e1470662626136

 

International relations expert, Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, has expressed confidence, the price of cocoa on the international market would see a drastic increase, if both Ghana and Ivory Coast prioritise integration across the cocoa value chain.

 

During a two-day official state visit by the Ivoirian president, Alassane Ouattara, to Ghana this week, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo announced that the two countries are working together to address the unfavourable global cocoa pricing regime to reduce the vulnerability of both nations to the volatility of the markets.

 

Speaking in an interview with TV3, Dr. Antwi-Danso who is the Head of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces noted that the cooperation would boost the industrialisation agenda of the Akufo-Addo-led government, by adding value to the commodity.

 

He praised Alassane Ouattara for the reciprocal visit, saying it is an indication of realignment of the relationship between the two countries, following the ITLOS decision. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire collectively produced about 60% of the world’s cocoa. Aside the economic gain, the health benefits of cocoa are numerous, including the provision of flavonoids to help the body process nitric oxide, which improves blood flow, helps lower blood pressure and improves overall heart health.

 

The one student, one chocolate policy initiated by President Akufo-Addo seeks to create avenues to increase local consumption and increase demand for cocoa. This in turn would form the need for farmer productivity to be encouraged through the adoption of hand pollination methods and irrigation processes particularly on large farms.

 

Senior Public Affairs Director at COCOBOD, Noah Kwasi Amenyah has also expressed the need for fertilizers to be provided at a subsidized rate instead of being given to them for free. This, he said, he would push farmers to approach cocoa farming as a business. Currently 17% of cocoa farms in the country are over aged, while 23% have been affected by swollen shoot virus, resulting in 40% of cocoa farms in the country being unproductive.

 

Source: 3news.com

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Set up State farms under ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ – Agric trainees tell gov’t

 

nss farm 1

 

Students in agriculture and related sciences (IAAS) are urging government to establish State farms under its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme that seeks to whip up interest in agriculture and boost food production in the country.

 

The group said the establishment of state farms will go a long way to create jobs for agriculture graduates in the country who have remained unemployed for years, as well as give trainees hands on practical experiene while in school.

 

National vice president of International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS), Desmond Nana Yaw Aboagye, who made the appeal argued state farms will be the only way a students who reads agriculture and related sciences, can be employed just as their colleagues in nursing and teacher trainee schools.

 

“When nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers go to school, they graduate and gets back to office and work, so when I read agriculture and graduate where do I go?” he wondered. He added: It is “Not that we don’t want to work, we want to get our hands on desks and work but where is the job?” Nana Aboagye said the planting for food and jobs should not be left to only peasant and local farmers but should also be an initiative of the government where it will employ people under the state farm principle, to introduce more jobs and to increase productivity.

 

He stressed that, with the state farm initiative, both job and food aspects of the planting for food and jobs is assured, noting under that graduates of agriculture will be employed to go into higher levels of production and ultimately guarantee food security in Ghana. “We are therefore asking government to introduce state farms as part of the planting for food and jobs initiative.

 

We would be glad if government could give this request a consideration as soon as possible so we students and graduates in agriculture can also have something to ourselves,” he appealed. He also called on government to consider the introduction of section in the planting for food and jobs to cater for meat production.

 

“Food is not complete without meat in a lay man’s view. The rate of importation of chicken and beef products is on a rise but with government’s support and the state farm initiative, farmers can produce to meet the country’s requirement and even expand for exportation” he said.

 

Nana Aboagye appealed to government to address the issue of allowance for the colleges of agriculture across the country. Students in the colleges of agriculture hit the street last week to demand the restoration of their allowance which was scrapped together with that of nurses and trainee teachers.

 

The allowances for the trainee teachers and nurses have since this month been restored by the government.

 

Source: 3news.com

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Tindongo farmers benefit from ABL's solar powered irrigation systems

 

October 20, 2017

 

todongo

 

Accra Brewery Limited’s (ABL) Eagle Farmer Project has provided farmers in Tindongo, Upper East Region, with a solar-powered irrigation system, delivering on the company’s commitment to invest in a Growing World where everyone has the opportunity to improve their livelihood.

 

The GHC 80,000.00 sustainable development initiative, which consists of a newly-constructed furrow irrigation system and a solar-powered mechanised borehole, is intended to benefit over 1,700 persons, and offer an alternative to rain-fed agriculture, enabling farmers, whom the company considers its backbone, to cultivate crops all year round.

 

Speaking at the handing-over ceremony at Tindongo, Mr. John Baptist Akado, Brand Manager of ABL’s locally-sourced cassava beer, Eagle Lager, said ‘ the Eagle Farmer Project is the company’s promise to farmers, as well as the symbol of our commitment to improving the income of small-holder farmers in Ghana’.

 

Mr. Akado further stated, ‘the Upper East Region has benefited the most as it bears the full brunt of the longest dry season, which lasts between 7 to 8 months. It is our hope, therefore, that the Project will help mitigate the extreme financial woes the dry season places on our farmers’, he concluded.

 

The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Rockson Ayine Bukari, commended ABL for its Eagle Farmer initiative, noting that it will go a long way to ensure food security and consequently contribute to reducing poverty in the Region. Mr. Bukari also charged the 5-member care-taker committee set-up to ensure the longevity of the initiative, to own the Project and ensure the community reaps its benefits to the fullest.

 

Since its introduction in 2015, the Eagle Farmer Project has complemented governments’ efforts at promoting irrigation infrastructure in farming communities, thus immensely improving the lives of small-holder farmers, whose fortunes would have otherwise been dependent on erratic and increasingly unfavourable weather conditions.

 

Over the two-year period, four communities spanning the Volta, Upper East and Western regions of Ghana have benefited from the deployment of irrigation facilities. These communities are Yirene, in the Bolga Municipality of the Upper East Region; Gbi Avega in the Volta Region; Paga Kajelo, and Huniso in the Upper East and Western regions respectively.

 

The inauguration and handover at Tindongo is the first of two projects in the Upper East Region, with the second project, sited at Gambibgo in the Bolgatanga Municipality ready for inauguration and handover in the 1st week of November, 2017.

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

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