In Ghana, cocoa is traditionally grown in agroforestry systems, but over time farmers increasingly switched to monocultures, with negative effects on long-term production levels and farmers’ resilience. We have supported cocoa farmers to bring back trees into their farms.
Together with farmers we worked on ways to cultivate different trees and plants within cocoa plantations. We helped to establish village-level savings groups, which enabled cocoa farmers, especially women, to invest in the management of their cocoa agroforests and diversify their livelihood sources. We shared best practices with companies and government agencies, some of which have now embraced diverse cocoa agroforestry as the way forward. We also helped district governments with integrating agroforestry objectives in medium-term development plans, and raised the government’s attention to current tree tenure policies that serve as disincentives for farmers to grow and maintain trees on their farms.
We have learned that upscaling sustainable cocoa agroforestry requires ongoing engagement with government extension agencies, to fundamentally change their approach towards cocoa farming. From focusing on specialized cocoa farms with little or no shade trees, to promoting diversified and multifunctional cocoa agroforestry systems that increase farmers’ resilience in the long run.