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Cocoa farmers cry over effects of climate change

Posted in Tea, Coffee & Cocoa

GHANA - Cocoa farmers in the forest fringe communities in the municipalities of the Brong Ahafo Region have said that climate change is seriously affecting cocoa production in the Asunafo North Municipality, one of the largest cocoa producing area.

According to the farmers, most of the rainfall pattern in the area is unpredictable and remains unfavourable for cocoa and food production.

This is due to rapid depletion of the forest coupled with continuous destruction of the eco-system in the forest fringe communities as a result of negative agricultural practices and unwarranted human activities that have destroyed the eco-system.

These practices include bush-burning, uncontrolled hunting expeditions, indiscriminate felling of trees, and farming along most of the river-bodies in the area.

The cocoa farmers explained at Fawohoyeden, Kasapin, Mantekrom and Jerusalem prompt intervention of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners has brought hope to them.

They made this known when Mr. Bossman Owusu, a Communication Analyst at the UNDP office in Accra, embarked on an official visit to monitor a project being implemented by the Programme in the municipality.

In July, the UNDP and the Ghana Cocoa Board launched the project aimed at enhancing the ecosystem and boosting cocoa production in the municipality.

It is being implemented in collaboration with Mondelez International, a chocolate manufacturing company in the US.

Dubbed ‘Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana Project (ESP)’, the project educates the youth on climate change, its impact on the environment, and appropriate ways to address the challenge.

Mr. Daniel Amponsah, a cocoa farmer at Kasapin, explained that the project has supported farmers in 46 communities in the area to plant economic tree seedlings -- such as Oframo, Mahogany, Emire and Cidrella and Acacia to resuscitate the forest.

A 58-year old farmer at Jerusalem, Mrs. Elizabeth Addai, said aside from the farm inputs distributed to the farmers under the project, most of them now understand best farming practices because of the capacity building training component of the project.

Eric Gyamfi, a Field Officer of the project, explained during the visit that environmental clubs have been formed in 16 junior high schools of the area.

The clubs are tasked to promote several school-based activities to create the needed awareness, understanding and interest in climate change and its consequences on the environment.

The schools are Kapain Municipal Assembly (M/A), Abidjan M/A, Ampenkrom M/A, Diasibe M/A, Driverkrom SDA, Edwinase M/A, Fawohoyeden M/A Fawohoyeden M/A ‘B’ and Fianko M/A JHSs.

Others are Kasapin Wesley Methodist, Kumaho M/A, Kwaopertey M/A, Minkakrom M/A, Kumaho M/A, Peterkrom M/A, and Wam-adiemra M/A JHSs.

Mr. Gyamfi said the project had supplied the clubs with sets of garden tools, comprising wheelbarrows, rakes, spades, cutlasses, pick-axes and mattocks to establish model farms.

The items are also to equip the clubs to engage in school-based environmental activities like landscaping and tree-planting as immediate measures to address the challenges of climate change.

Mr. Gyamfi explained that farmers in the beneficiary communities have also been supplied with 75,199 economic tree seedlings for plantations to protect the bumper zone.

The visit also took Mr. Owusu to some of the beneficiary schools to interact with the environmental clubs.

He indicated that well-informed youth will be in a better position to contribute to mitigating the impacts of environmental change in the future.