President Nana Akufo-Addo has challenged stakeholders in the cocoa sector to put together synergy through the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme to make the country’s cocoa sector climate-resilient.
The President made the call when he launched the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP) under the theme; “Achieving 10 Million Tonnes Emission Reduction in Six Years”.
The initiative, a collaboration between the Forestry Commission and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), seeks to curb carbon emissions resulting from cocoa expansion into forests through the promotion of appropriate climate-smart cocoa production approaches.
The programme also seeks to curb illegal timber harvesting and mining, while incorporating shade trees in cocoa systems and to build climate – resilience for the cocoa sector in order to secure rural livelihoods and sustain national development.
The President was optimistic that the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders holds the key to end deforestation, reduce greenhouse house gases and ultimately increase cocoa yield in the country.
“The Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP) has the capacity to further our economy, restore our forest cover, reduce meaningfully our greenhouse gases, boost cocoa production, and also increase the tourism potential of our country,” President Akufo-Addo said.
As co-chair of the UN eminent group of advocates of the Sustainable Development Goals, the President emphasized the importance of the implementation of the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD programme to the realisation of a smart cocoa production with environmental sustainability at the heart of it.
“I, therefore, call on all stakeholders to rise to the occasion. This is the time to exhibit real ambition through action. The GCFRP is a performance-based programmme and we need results in the form of verifiable emission reductions”, the President added.
Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie in his address, outlined the progress made by the country in reducing carbon emissions adding that Ghana is the third country globally to subscribe to the carbon funds portfolio.
“Per the terms and conditions of this agreement, Ghana shall be advanced an amount of $1.3 million to Kick-start some of the activities in the programme document”, he noted
Minister for Lands and Natural resources, Kweku Asomah-Cheremeh said a number of innovative policies have been put in place to ensure that cocoa production is done concurrently with forest development.
“Knowing the importance of food and cocoa production to the economy of the country, the Ministry had no options but to find an innovative approach for both forests and cocoa to coexist hence the development of the GFIP.
“Through the GFIP, the Ministry has made significant gains in terms of behavioral change in the cocoa and forest mosaic landscape and the programme being launched today is building on some of the lessons and success stories so far”, he noted
Ghana’s Cocoa Forest landscape has one of the alarming deforestation rates in Africa.
Forest degradation and deforestation across this agro-forest mosaic, which covers 5.9 million hectares of Ghana’s High Forest Zone is being driven by continued agricultural expansion and other types of agriculture (food crops farming), coupled with a recent upsurge in illegal mining and illegal logging.
Ghana’s agenda for REDD+ programme is thus geared towards significantly reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to enhance carbon stocks through sustainable forest management and forest restoration over the next 20 years.
In furtherance of this Ghana entered into partnership with Mondelēz International, an American multinational that will commit some $5 million over five years to the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme.
The programme will focus on mapping all land uses, including cocoa farms; implementing climate smart cocoa practices to increase yields and sustainability; improving access to finance to foster good practices by farmers and communities; initiating legislative and policy reform to support program execution and coordination; and measuring, reporting and verifying.