Environmentally Sustainable Production Practices in Cocoa Landscapes

This project is a continuation and the second phase of the “Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana” project (2013-2016). It is jointly implemented by UNDP and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), with support from Mondelēz International.

Cocoa plays a key role in the Ghanaian economy employing about 800,000 smallholder farmers and constituting the second largest export out of Ghana. Increase in cocoa production has been largely attributed to farm expansions and to a lesser extent to access to improved and high yielding seeds and farm inputs. Cocoa production is carried out in two main agro-ecological zones: in the moist semi-deciduous forest (i.e. Eastern, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, and Central Regions) and high rainforest (i.e. Western Region) with an estimated cultivation area of over 1.6 million hectare.

A baseline study conducted on environment in the cocoa sector in 2011 showed that cocoa production has intensified over the last three decades at the expense of forest losses due to the promotion of zero shade systems and movements of the timber sector. A significant consequence of deforestation, which has significantly affected cocoa production, is the loss of major soil nutrients, which is now a leading cause of the gradual decline of national cocoa yields.

The project aims to meet two broad objectives as follows:

  1.  Farmers in the Cocoa Life program adopt environmentally sustainable and climate change resilient cocoa production practices on their farms;
  2.  Cocoa production landscapes in the Cocoa Life communities and districts are managed sustainably to conserve ecosystems and natural resources.

The project is designed to build on results and lessons learned from the first phase, and will scale up activities to cover 330 communities in 14 districts by adopting three key strategies:

  1. Mainstreaming of environmentally sustainable production practices into farmer extension training. The main element of this strategy is to develop training modules on selected environmental sustainability practices and train Community Extension Agents (CEAs) and other Implementation Partners (IPs) to enable them to also train farmers on the selected practices (using the trainer of trainer’s concept).
  2. Ensuring long-term ecosystem protection at the district to community levels by establishing three Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) in selected districts to govern local resources and ecosystem management in cocoa landscapes. While the farmer based interventions will ensure change and improvements at the farm level, it is crucial to sustain this at the landscape level. Hence, the CREMA establishment, a mechanism that allows communities to jointly manage natural resources of a larger ecosystem with relevant stakeholders will ensure long-term sustainability and scaling up of interventions.
  3. Policy engagement with government on land tenure and tree tenure rights. Securing tree tenure rights for farmers engaged in the tree plantings on cocoa farms by establishing a tree registration mechanism with the Forestry Commission will incentivise farmers to implement and scale up Environmentally Sustainable Production (ESP) practices.


  • About 1,668 extension trainers, community animators, lead farmers and other implementing partners in the Mondelez Cocoa Life Program were trained in the 5 new districts (Bia West, Juabeso, Sekyere East, Ahafo Ano North, Awutu Senya) via a training of trainers’ approach. The trainings were on tree integration and silviculture practices and multiple benefits of enhancing tree and carbon stocks on farms and tree-tenure regulations. The trainees later provided direct farmer trainings targeted within their respective communities.  
  • Over 34,914 farmers (38 % females) were trained via direct farmer trainings in both sustainable natural resource management practices and sustainable ecosystem management practices by cocoa extension agents supported by the project’s field coordinators.
  • As part of the tree integration program, a total of 336,170 economic trees comprising of 5 species (Mahogany, Ofram, Kokodua, Hyedua and Mansonia) were procured from commercial nurseries (198,000 seedlings) and from the Forestry Commission’s Forest Investment Programme (137,170 seedlings), supplied and planted by 11,901 farmers (28% females) from 223 communities in 7 Districts (Bia West, Juabeso, Sekyere East, Ahafo Ano North, Asunafo North, Awutu Senya and Wassa East).
  • Continued support for the Ayum Asuokow CREMA established under the ESP Phase I to enhance their operationalization. In addition, work begun on a second CREMA in Atobiase, Wassa East district.