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  • Can research be transformative? Challenging gender norms around trees and land restoration in West Africa

Can research be transformative? Challenging gender norms around trees and land restoration in West Africa

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Gloria Adeyiga (left), Ana Maria Paez (centre) and Emilie Smith Dumont present research findings to the community of Gwenia, northern Ghana. Photo by ICRAF

Trees are important sources of income for many women in the drylands of West Africa, yet women often have little say in decisions about how land and trees are managed or how household income is used.

This story reports on a series of community workshops organized by the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) project, which set out to explore gender inequity and what might be done to change things for the better.

Community members listened with rapt attention as research findings about differences in sources of household income and decision-making powers among men and women were presented in graphs drawn on large sheets of paper. There was a lot of interesting material to digest and to discuss. The results showed large variations in access to assets and resources among men and women, and some strong imbalances in how decisions are made within households.

WAFFI is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Read also: Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

At one workshop, fifteen women and eight men from the village of Gwenia in Kassena-Nankana West District in Ghana’s Upper East Region, ranging in age from late teens to early 80s, gathered in the women’s community center. Facilitating the activities were Gloria Adeyiga of the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez Valencia and Emilie Smith Dumont, who has coordinated the WAFFI project in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso for ICRAF.

This is a region where diminishing tree resources, land degradation and climate change have increased women’s vulnerability, while restrictive sociocultural norms offer limited opportunities for women to participate in, and benefit from, landscape restoration or agroforestry initiatives. ICRAF scientists think that addressing gender inequity is key to unlocking women’s potential to make livelihoods and landscapes more productive and resilient.

In Gwenia, Adeyiga and Smith Dumont presented findings from their innovative participatory research that explored wealth variations within, and across, communities. Interviews had been conducted simultaneously with the male family head and one adult female in 36 households.

Tree dependence is high in the region, so income from tree resources was of particular interest. The data showed that while women are involved in all farm and livestock activities, they depend heavily on trees for cash income that they can control; a quarter of women bring in more than 40% of household income from tree products.

Read more: Farmers’ knowledge of soil quality indicators along a land degradation gradient in Rwanda.  

The main tree products in the area are shea nuts (Vitellaria paradoxa), charcoal, firewood, baobab fruit (Adansonia digitate), shea butter processed from the nuts, and tamarind.

For women, shea nuts are extremely important. More than half of the households surveyed receive income from the nuts, nearly all of it controlled by women. In households where income comes from firewood and shea butter, most of the income is controlled by women.

Baobab and tamarind (Tamarindus indica) are also income sources exclusively for women. But, where charcoal contributes income, as it does in more than 30% of households, women receive only a very small share of it. Of immediate concern is that shea trees are now the most common source of wood for charcoal making, so a key resource for women is being diminished by the male-dominated charcoal trade.

While tree resources in the area are decreasing because of growing pressure on them for charcoal, clearing for agricultural land, and uncontrolled bush fires, men are becoming increasingly interested in shea, as global markets expand for the precious butter and nuts, used as a cocoa-butter substitute in food, and also in cosmetic products.

When it comes to farm size and access to land, there are also marked gender differences. On average, women cultivate less than half a hectare and men more than four times that much. In 40% of the households, women have no access to land to cultivate themselves. Men make the decisions about how much land is allocated to women.

Participants in Gwenia discuss where to place photos illustrating household duties based on gender norms in the community. Photo by ICRAF

There are variations in cash income between men and women and from one household to the next. On average, almost half of household income comes from crops, mostly from men’s farming, and a third from livestock. But this is not always the case: in some households all of the crop income comes from women. Importantly, as Smith Dumont and Adeyiga reported to the workshop in Gwenia, their research showed that men make most of the decisions on how household income is used.

At the end of the presentation, community members were asked if they were surprised by the gender imbalances the data revealed. One participant, Stephen Adayira, said he was surprised to see the amount of income that women contributed to the household, and that women did so much to support the household.

“Men thought they were doing that,” he said.

Read also: Implications of variation in local perception of degradation and restoration processes for implementing land degradation neutrality

Transforming gender norms

This was not the only time during the workshop that there was surprise expressed about the extent of gender inequity in the community.

In another exercise, participants were given photographs illustrating various household and farm duties, from ploughing fields, to washing clothes or sweeping a compound, to processing seeds from Parkia biglobosa trees to make the condiment dawadawa. They then allocated the photographs to either male, mainly male, mainly female or exclusively female categories that were marked on a sheet of paper, based on who generally performed the tasks.

The placement of the photos revealed that women had far more household responsibilities than men. Asked whether they thought this gender imbalance was creating problems, some female participants responded that it was indeed a problem, and that women ‘age faster’ and ‘get sick more often’ than men.

Participants agreed that there could be more balance in household duties and that a few of the all-female chores — such as washing up and cooking, for example — could readily be shared by men.

The village-level gender workshop was the first of two held under the WAFFI project, the second being in the community of Séloghin in the Nobéré Department of southern Burkina Faso. Both revealed similar gender imbalances and responses from male and female participants. But there was also agreement that things have changed since the time of their grandparents. Men have been assuming a few more previously female responsibilities, women have taken up more farming duties and now have more freedom to speak their minds in public than in the past.

The workshops also included role plays, where women dressed up as men and assumed their roles in making decisions on tree-planting, use of income and in household chores, while men acted as women. These allowed both men and women to challenge gender norms and provoke a great deal of laughter and discussion in both communities. ICRAF scientists think that building these activities into development programs might lead men and women to change their behavior.

Some of the remarks were very telling.

In Séloghin, one young man admitted that playing a woman for him was ‘tiring’ and that he felt ‘shamed’ by the need to listen to a domineering husband.

Bibata Ouedraogo said she enjoyed playing a man.

“It is very interesting being head of the household,” she said. “Even if you don’t tell the truth, you have the power.”

“This will make us change our daily lives,” commented another woman.

Can gender transformative research lead to better restoration outcomes?

Shea butter. Photo by ICRAF

The findings from the WAFFI project, including during these participatory activities, suggest that efforts aimed at land restoration and increased resilience in Sahelian countries will be more successful if they can do something to change gender norms that restrict women’s participation in decision making and undervalue their roles in the landscape and in livelihood systems.

This mirrors recent work in East Africa, showing the importance of differences in how women and men view degradation status across their landscapes and the appropriateness of different restoration options.

“I think these workshops initiated a dialogue in the communities around how gender norms and roles, which usually go unquestioned, may be limiting people from making the best use of the resources they have available,” says ICRAF’s Ana Maria Paez Valencia.

“This dialogue helps them realize these norms can change, to improve their wellbeing and resilience.”

“Tackling harmful gender stereotypes and gaps cannot be considered as an accessory to technical interventions, it is a critical requirement to achieve sustainable outcomes,” says Emilie Smith Dumont.

Gloria Adeyiga was so struck by the potential for transformative change that she now wants to focus her PhD research on the extent to which including gender transformative activities in scaling up agroforestry in the Regreening Africa program can change outcomes, in terms of what tree species are planted and retained in fields, how much income is generated and how it is used to improve the livelihoods of men, women and children in northern Ghana. This is made possible by support from FTA’s Flagship 2.

Edward Akunyagra of World Vision, who coordinates the regreening program in Ghana, said that the WAFFI research has highlighted the need to “develop approaches that integrate gender analysis and participatory methods in ways that support community dialogues around sensitive issues like gender inequity, leading to transformative outcomes and impact.”

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.

For more information, please contact ICRAF’s Ana Maria Paez Valencia at [email protected]

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  • Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Parkland in Ghana. Photo by ICRAF

Participants in a recent workshop have called for more trees to restore landscapes and improve livelihoods in northern Ghana.

“There is an urgent need in northern Ghana for metro, municipal and district assemblies, NGOs and civil society organizations to act immediately to address issues such as land tenure, bush fires, indiscriminate tree cutting, and a lack of financial resources, so that we increase tree cover and improve land health and livelihoods. This is our call to action.”

So reads the powerful declaration from a workshop in Bolgatanga, capital of Ghana’s Upper East Region. The unanimity of the participants in issuing their urgent call for action to expand the scale of land restoration for the regreening of northern Ghana and beyond was surprising, and very encouraging, given the diversity of their occupations and backgrounds.

The nearly 40 people who gathered to explore practices and policies that could encourage more trees in landscapes so as to reverse land degradation and improve livelihoods and food security, included leading farmers and extension officers from three districts — Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane — as well as representatives of Catholic Relief Services, Tree Aid and World Vision, and researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The participants identified the many benefits of increasing trees and forests in landscapes, such as the conservation of soil and water and the important economic, medicinal and nutritional value of indigenous species.

They also examined the complex constraints — cultural, climatic, legal, gender — that confront everyone working to improve the management of agricultural, pastoral and forest land in the region, including tree-planting activities that do not take into account the importance of species, context, management and timing.

Along with the call to action, the workshop produced a series of recommendations for policies and actions to improve tree cover, forests and land health in the three districts, including new laws to prevent indiscriminate tree-cutting, analyses and mapping of soils in the communities, and more emphasis on agroforestry systems with indigenous trees and crops.

The workshop was convened by two projects: West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by CIFOR and implemented by ICRAF in Ghana and Burkina Faso; and the five-year- Regreening Africa, funded by the European Union, in which ICRAF is a leading partner.

Shea nuts. Photo by ICRAF

With such a diverse group of people, discussions naturally ranged widely, covering many of the issues that afflicted the region.
For example, Thomas Addaoh, CIFOR field coordinator of WAFFI Ghana, noted that the demand for charcoal in urban centres in northern Ghana is resulting in the widespread harvesting of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) for their wood as a source of the fuel. Research undertaken for WAFFI found that more than a quarter of the charcoal in the region was derived from shea, making it the most common source of wood for the widely-used fuel.

Shea is also a vital source of income for women, who sell the shea nuts, which produce a quality oil with a growing global market because of its use in cosmetics and as a cocoa butter substitute in food, or process them into shea butter for local use. The cutting of shea trees for charcoal production, Addaoh said, meant female harvesters and sellers of the shea nuts were competing with male harvesters and vendors of the wood, something that requires urgent attention to ensure sustainable management of the fuel-and-oil resource and equitably meet the income needs of households.

More generally, Edward Akunyagra of World Vision, the project manager of Regreening Africa in Ghana, said that the project is working to reverse the loss of trees, aiming to influence policy and mindsets through an advocacy campaign.

According to the Upper East regional director of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Francis Ennor, who attended the workshop along with three district directors from the ministry, land degradation and loss of tree cover in the region are ‘extremely serious’. Rampant bush fires destroy groundcover and trees, and expose the soil to the weather, such as heavy rain and wind, which leads to erosion and loss of fertility.

However, Ennor said the workshop was addressing his concerns and he hoped that from now on local authorities would take tree management and planting very seriously and that every community would have a land-use plan to increase tree cover.
Such land-use plans, Ennor said, could designate degraded areas for restoration through farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). This could create community forests, such as the one supported by World Vision Australia that the workshop participants had visited the previous day in Saaka Aneogo.

Ennor argued that there is a need for policies to protect such community forests and make their management sustainable and less vulnerable because of insecure land tenure. This is a prerequisite for increasing the scale of FMNR and encouraging planting to increase tree cover in croplands and across whole landscapes.

Indeed, the purpose of the workshop, according to ICRAF’s Emilie Smith Dumont, was to bring together a range of people working for transformation of the Upper East Region to examine ways to ‘create synergies for resilient livelihoods’. Smith Dumont coordinates the WAFFI project in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and also acts as a focal point for Regreening Africa in Ghana.

“We have many projects in the northern belt,” Smith Dumont said. “Some are working in silos, so today we are trying to bring all those people together to share lessons and promote action.”

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


For more information, please contact Emilie Smith Dumont at [email protected]

The West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Regreening Africa is a five-year project that seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

WAFFI is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. 

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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  • Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Parkland in Ghana. Photo by ICRAF

Participants in a recent workshop have called for more trees to restore landscapes and improve livelihoods in northern Ghana.

“There is an urgent need in northern Ghana for metro, municipal and district assemblies, NGOs and civil society organizations to act immediately to address issues such as land tenure, bush fires, indiscriminate tree cutting, and a lack of financial resources, so that we increase tree cover and improve land health and livelihoods. This is our call to action.”

So reads the powerful declaration from a workshop in Bolgatanga, capital of Ghana’s Upper East Region. The unanimity of the participants in issuing their urgent call for action to expand the scale of land restoration for the regreening of northern Ghana and beyond was surprising, and very encouraging, given the diversity of their occupations and backgrounds.

The nearly 40 people who gathered to explore practices and policies that could encourage more trees in landscapes so as to reverse land degradation and improve livelihoods and food security, included leading farmers and extension officers from three districts — Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane — as well as representatives of Catholic Relief Services, Tree Aid and World Vision, and researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The participants identified the many benefits of increasing trees and forests in landscapes, such as the conservation of soil and water and the important economic, medicinal and nutritional value of indigenous species.

They also examined the complex constraints — cultural, climatic, legal, gender — that confront everyone working to improve the management of agricultural, pastoral and forest land in the region, including tree-planting activities that do not take into account the importance of species, context, management and timing.

Along with the call to action, the workshop produced a series of recommendations for policies and actions to improve tree cover, forests and land health in the three districts, including new laws to prevent indiscriminate tree-cutting, analyses and mapping of soils in the communities, and more emphasis on agroforestry systems with indigenous trees and crops.

The workshop was convened by two projects: West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by CIFOR and implemented by ICRAF in Ghana and Burkina Faso; and the five-year- Regreening Africa, funded by the European Union, in which ICRAF is a leading partner.

Shea nuts. Photo by ICRAF

With such a diverse group of people, discussions naturally ranged widely, covering many of the issues that afflicted the region.
For example, Thomas Addaoh, CIFOR field coordinator of WAFFI Ghana, noted that the demand for charcoal in urban centres in northern Ghana is resulting in the widespread harvesting of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) for their wood as a source of the fuel. Research undertaken for WAFFI found that more than a quarter of the charcoal in the region was derived from shea, making it the most common source of wood for the widely-used fuel.

Shea is also a vital source of income for women, who sell the shea nuts, which produce a quality oil with a growing global market because of its use in cosmetics and as a cocoa butter substitute in food, or process them into shea butter for local use. The cutting of shea trees for charcoal production, Addaoh said, meant female harvesters and sellers of the shea nuts were competing with male harvesters and vendors of the wood, something that requires urgent attention to ensure sustainable management of the fuel-and-oil resource and equitably meet the income needs of households.

More generally, Edward Akunyagra of World Vision, the project manager of Regreening Africa in Ghana, said that the project is working to reverse the loss of trees, aiming to influence policy and mindsets through an advocacy campaign.

According to the Upper East regional director of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Francis Ennor, who attended the workshop along with three district directors from the ministry, land degradation and loss of tree cover in the region are ‘extremely serious’. Rampant bush fires destroy groundcover and trees, and expose the soil to the weather, such as heavy rain and wind, which leads to erosion and loss of fertility.

However, Ennor said the workshop was addressing his concerns and he hoped that from now on local authorities would take tree management and planting very seriously and that every community would have a land-use plan to increase tree cover.
Such land-use plans, Ennor said, could designate degraded areas for restoration through farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). This could create community forests, such as the one supported by World Vision Australia that the workshop participants had visited the previous day in Saaka Aneogo.

Ennor argued that there is a need for policies to protect such community forests and make their management sustainable and less vulnerable because of insecure land tenure. This is a prerequisite for increasing the scale of FMNR and encouraging planting to increase tree cover in croplands and across whole landscapes.

Indeed, the purpose of the workshop, according to ICRAF’s Emilie Smith Dumont, was to bring together a range of people working for transformation of the Upper East Region to examine ways to ‘create synergies for resilient livelihoods’. Smith Dumont coordinates the WAFFI project in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and also acts as a focal point for Regreening Africa in Ghana.

“We have many projects in the northern belt,” Smith Dumont said. “Some are working in silos, so today we are trying to bring all those people together to share lessons and promote action.”

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


For more information, please contact Emilie Smith Dumont at [email protected]

The West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Regreening Africa is a five-year project that seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

WAFFI is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. 

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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  • Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Restoration of landscapes in Ghana requires men and women to work together. Photo by Joan Baxter/ICRAF

Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like one held recently in Ghana an important contribution.

Almost two dozen representatives from Ghanaian development agencies working in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in northern Ghana gathered in the city of Bolgatanga on Nov. 13, 2018 for a training workshop titled Social and Gender Dynamics and their Importance for Improving Resilience and Livelihoods.

The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Given the often-sensitive nature of the issues and that male participants outnumbered females at 15 to 11, discussions were at times lively.

A few of the men said they were uneasy with the notions of gender equity and equality, if that meant women would have the ‘same status as men’ or expect their husbands to take on household tasks such as bathing children or cooking, or abruptly challenge traditional and cultural values.

ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez, who facilitated the workshop, explained that ‘gender equity’ was a ‘process of being fair to women and men’ through strategies and measures that ‘compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field’.

“Gender equity leads to equality,” she told participants, distinguishing it from gender equality, which is a ‘state, an ideal outcome’. “Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys and men of opportunities, resources and rewards. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances.”

The workshop was hosted by Emilie Smith Dumont, coordinator of the West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI) project in Burkina Faso and Ghana. She is also the Ghana focal point for the ambitious, five-year Regreening Africa project funded by the European Union.

The WAFFI project is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Workshop participant work on a drawing of an ‘ideal man’. Photo by Emilie Smith Dumont/ICRAF

Regreening Africa seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

“Our purpose was to bring people together to find ways to fully integrate and promote gender issues and transformation into projects,” said Smith Dumont. “The context is land restoration at the forest–farm interface because there is a very strong gendered role around trees in landscapes.

“This kind of collaboration is extremely important for improving livelihoods: we know that trees contribute greatly to livelihoods. We have found from our work that family cohesion increases resilience of households and that all goes back to more balanced gender relations.”

Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive, and often intensive, discussions about the difference between gender, which is a social construct, and sex, which pertains to physical characteristics, as well as on processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.

One of the more colorful sessions involved male participants drawing and describing what they would consider the ‘ideal woman’ and female participants doing the same for an ‘ideal man’. This led to animated discussions, closely analyzing some of the stereotypes of men and women revealed by the drawings.

But the over-arching theme of the workshop and the key messages that emerged had most to do with analyses of gender in agriculture, including divisions of labour, access to, and control of, resources and their benefits, based on findings from WAFFI.

The discussion revealed how gender influences many aspects of the management of farms, households, trees and forests in communities.

Participants also looked at specific issues that were particularly relevant for their project work in northern Ghana, including tree management and landscape restoration, soil and water conservation, and ways to ensure equitable representation of men and women in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

They also examined how gender awareness is, or is not, already integrated into their activities in community forestry, value chains and market access, local governance, and agricultural productivity.

A woman views a gulley on her farm in Mwingi, Kenya. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

From the discussions, they distilled some tangible ways to be more responsive to gender issues in their activities.

For community forestry, participants proposed several actions. First, bush fires are an annual and serious problem in northern Ghana. More sensitization and training should be undertaken with women to empower them to prevent, control and manage burning. Second, policies are needed to grant access to land and natural resources to women, starting at the community level.

For local governance, instead of inviting chiefs, heads of departments or their representatives to public meetings and paying no attention to how many of these were male or female, women’s groups should be expressly invited.

For agricultural productivity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to train more female agricultural extension officers to ensure that there are enough appropriate staff to provide female farmers with the advice they need, noting that when new technologies are passed on to farmers, women tend to follow protocols more diligently than their male counterparts. Second, the ministry should ensure that when demonstration plots are set up in a district at least one should be managed by a woman; and ensure women had access to farm inputs, such as high-quality germplasm and, indeed, also become leaders in the field.

For access to market and value chains, the workshop proposed that women’s production and processing groups need help to build their sustainability through village savings and loans groups, which would allow them to mobilize funds to invest in labour-saving technologies, such as threshers. Second, women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles in community-based organizations.

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


Partners supporting the gender workshop included CIFOR, Catholic Relief Services, Economics of Land Degradation, the European Union, Tree Aid and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Produced by World Agroforestry Centre as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Restoration of landscapes in Ghana requires men and women to work together. Photo by Joan Baxter/ICRAF

Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like one held recently in Ghana an important contribution.

Almost two dozen representatives from Ghanaian development agencies working in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in northern Ghana gathered in the city of Bolgatanga on Nov. 13, 2018 for a training workshop titled Social and Gender Dynamics and their Importance for Improving Resilience and Livelihoods.

The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Given the often-sensitive nature of the issues and that male participants outnumbered females at 15 to 11, discussions were at times lively.

A few of the men said they were uneasy with the notions of gender equity and equality, if that meant women would have the ‘same status as men’ or expect their husbands to take on household tasks such as bathing children or cooking, or abruptly challenge traditional and cultural values.

ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez, who facilitated the workshop, explained that ‘gender equity’ was a ‘process of being fair to women and men’ through strategies and measures that ‘compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field’.

“Gender equity leads to equality,” she told participants, distinguishing it from gender equality, which is a ‘state, an ideal outcome’. “Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys and men of opportunities, resources and rewards. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances.”

The workshop was hosted by Emilie Smith Dumont, coordinator of the West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI) project in Burkina Faso and Ghana. She is also the Ghana focal point for the ambitious, five-year Regreening Africa project funded by the European Union.

The WAFFI project is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Workshop participant work on a drawing of an ‘ideal man’. Photo by Emilie Smith Dumont/ICRAF

Regreening Africa seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

“Our purpose was to bring people together to find ways to fully integrate and promote gender issues and transformation into projects,” said Smith Dumont. “The context is land restoration at the forest–farm interface because there is a very strong gendered role around trees in landscapes.

“This kind of collaboration is extremely important for improving livelihoods: we know that trees contribute greatly to livelihoods. We have found from our work that family cohesion increases resilience of households and that all goes back to more balanced gender relations.”

Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive, and often intensive, discussions about the difference between gender, which is a social construct, and sex, which pertains to physical characteristics, as well as on processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.

One of the more colorful sessions involved male participants drawing and describing what they would consider the ‘ideal woman’ and female participants doing the same for an ‘ideal man’. This led to animated discussions, closely analyzing some of the stereotypes of men and women revealed by the drawings.

But the over-arching theme of the workshop and the key messages that emerged had most to do with analyses of gender in agriculture, including divisions of labour, access to, and control of, resources and their benefits, based on findings from WAFFI.

The discussion revealed how gender influences many aspects of the management of farms, households, trees and forests in communities.

Participants also looked at specific issues that were particularly relevant for their project work in northern Ghana, including tree management and landscape restoration, soil and water conservation, and ways to ensure equitable representation of men and women in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

They also examined how gender awareness is, or is not, already integrated into their activities in community forestry, value chains and market access, local governance, and agricultural productivity.

A woman views a gulley on her farm in Mwingi, Kenya. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

From the discussions, they distilled some tangible ways to be more responsive to gender issues in their activities.

For community forestry, participants proposed several actions. First, bush fires are an annual and serious problem in northern Ghana. More sensitization and training should be undertaken with women to empower them to prevent, control and manage burning. Second, policies are needed to grant access to land and natural resources to women, starting at the community level.

For local governance, instead of inviting chiefs, heads of departments or their representatives to public meetings and paying no attention to how many of these were male or female, women’s groups should be expressly invited.

For agricultural productivity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to train more female agricultural extension officers to ensure that there are enough appropriate staff to provide female farmers with the advice they need, noting that when new technologies are passed on to farmers, women tend to follow protocols more diligently than their male counterparts. Second, the ministry should ensure that when demonstration plots are set up in a district at least one should be managed by a woman; and ensure women had access to farm inputs, such as high-quality germplasm and, indeed, also become leaders in the field.

For access to market and value chains, the workshop proposed that women’s production and processing groups need help to build their sustainability through village savings and loans groups, which would allow them to mobilize funds to invest in labour-saving technologies, such as threshers. Second, women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles in community-based organizations.

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


Partners supporting the gender workshop included CIFOR, Catholic Relief Services, Economics of Land Degradation, the European Union, Tree Aid and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Produced by World Agroforestry Centre as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests

Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman holds a cacao bean, which can be processed into butter and cream. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Cocoa is the primary source of income in southern Cameroon, where it represents 48% of total agricultural land use. In this and other tropical regions, the way cocoa agroforests are managed matters immensely to livelihoods, and also to the climate.

Cocoa agroforests vary widely in terms of tree composition and structure, but, until recently, few studies had been conducted to understand how these differences impact carbon stocks.

Meanwhile, irresponsible land management practices were not only seeing cocoa plantations fail to contribute to countries’ emissions reductions goals, but also cause massive forest degradation in countries such as the Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana, which are alone responsible for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa production.

This ‘cocoa belt’ had been becoming increasingly prone to deforestation and drought, and cocoa landscapes in other high-producing countries in Asia and Latin America had been following suit.

But when chocolate companies began making deforestation-related commitments at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, the tide began to change on the industry’s standards and practices. It also then became imperative for scientists to generate knowledge to help the expected changes transform cocoa forest landscapes in the most beneficial ways.

In response, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) institution the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and other partner organizations profiled the carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests in three southern Cameroonian ecological areas (Yaoundé, Mbalmayo and Ebolowa) and identified what types of plants and management systems boost carbon storage best.

“This knowledge is important to implement nationally determined contributions [NDCs] to the global climate agenda and its measures to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation [REDD+] by promoting sustainable cocoa value chains,” says lead author and CIFOR senior scientist Denis Sonwa.

Since COP21, the world’s largest chocolate companies – Mars, Nestle and Ferrero to name a few – have come together in a variety of agreements, from an agreement signed by the Prince of Wales to a sectorial “Frameworks for Action” at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The goal is to see the industry achieve net-zero deforestation and improve local livelihoods, and this research is a crucial step along the way.

Read also: Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire

COCOA’S COMRADES

The researchers aimed to answer a string of questions including how carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests varied across ecological zones and management methods, and how carbon storage compared between different types of plants associated with cocoa – and the stocks of some key species, in particular.

“What we found is that agroforests with a high density of high-economic value industrial timber and non-timber forest products stored two to three times the amount captured by other management systems,” explains Sonwa.

A dish of cacao beans awaits processing in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Plantations with a high density of banana plants and oil palm trees came next, and those with cocoa tree densities of 70% or higher came in last. Specifically, the above-ground parts of plants in these varied types of cocoa agroforests stored 147 Mg of carbon per hectare, 49 Mg and 39 Mg, respectively.

Researchers also found that above-ground parts of the other plants accounted for 70% of the carbon storage, while cocoa trees accounted for only 5%.

Across all three ecological zones, high-value timber accounts for 29.7% of the total carbon stored above ground, at 49.9 Mg per hectare; edible species for 15%; and medicinal plants for 6%.

Read also: Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?

RICH PICKINGS

Another conclusion of the study is that “the top ten species generally stored more than 50% of carbon held by associated plants,” with Terminalia superba – a tall deciduous tree native to the African tropics – among the species with a higher storage (14 Mg per hectare).

These results “suggest that associated plants not only contribute to shade, but also increase the capacity of farms to store carbon,” notes the study. And the benefits of such plants go well beyond that. Indeed, the higher ecocapacity of cocoa agroforests lead to increases in plant litter fall, soil litter and rainfall, thus upgrading both the agronomic and environmental potential of the landscape. Meanwhile, a plantation solely growing cocoa does threaten overall agro-ecological sustainability.

Sonwa points out that non-cocoa plants provide a structure similar to that of forests, and that their products and services appear as cobenefits of cocoa agroforestry in addition to carbon storage. Timber, non-wood forest products such as fruit, and medicinal plants may all contribute to local livelihoods and to biodiversity conservation.

“Simultaneously obtaining several products and services from the same plantation increases the resilience of farmers,” he says. “That is particularly important as the pressure on natural resources increases.”

Read also: Greater inclusion of women is needed to optimally intensify cocoa value chains, researchers find

BEYOND THE BEANS

In the last few decades, the main goal of cocoa agroforests was to produce cocoa beans, but demographic growth, climate change and loss of forests are changing this approach.

For the researchers, the multiple functions of cocoa agroforests should be at the center of efforts to fight global warming and achieve better outcomes for people and the planet. “This is why our findings are useful to scientists, and also to decision-makers, farmers and the private sector,” says Sonwa.

The findings of the paper can, for example, be useful to certification schemes that want to improve the environmental footprint of the cocoa sector. They also offer key insights to cocoa agroforest managers, particularly given the current context where zero deforestation targets are at the center of many company agendas.

In Sub-Saharan Africa where most of the world’s cocoa originates, the paper is certainly useful in structuring efforts to free the cocoa value chain from deforestation. But going beyond that, in central Africa and the Congo Basin, it sheds light by offering productive agroforestry options that conserve remaining natural forests while providing livelihoods.

“We have examined cocoa agroforests from an ecological perspective, so the next step would be to look at economic and production aspects,” says Sonwa. “For example, does storing more carbon in associated plants affect cocoa production — and how?”

The findings make clear that sustainable cocoa agroforest management in Sub-Saharan African forest landscapes can reconcile cocoa bean production with climate change responses, and big global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But, it also makes clear how much there is left to learn about chocolate.

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Denis Sonwa at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

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  • Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests

Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman holds a cacao bean, which can be processed into butter and cream. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Cocoa is the primary source of income in southern Cameroon, where it represents 48% of total agricultural land use. In this and other tropical regions, the way cocoa agroforests are managed matters immensely to livelihoods, and also to the climate.

Cocoa agroforests vary widely in terms of tree composition and structure, but, until recently, few studies had been conducted to understand how these differences impact carbon stocks.

Meanwhile, irresponsible land management practices were not only seeing cocoa plantations fail to contribute to countries’ emissions reductions goals, but also cause massive forest degradation in countries such as the Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana, which are alone responsible for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa production.

This ‘cocoa belt’ had been becoming increasingly prone to deforestation and drought, and cocoa landscapes in other high-producing countries in Asia and Latin America had been following suit.

But when chocolate companies began making deforestation-related commitments at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, the tide began to change on the industry’s standards and practices. It also then became imperative for scientists to generate knowledge to help the expected changes transform cocoa forest landscapes in the most beneficial ways.

In response, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) institution the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and other partner organizations profiled the carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests in three southern Cameroonian ecological areas (Yaoundé, Mbalmayo and Ebolowa) and identified what types of plants and management systems boost carbon storage best.

“This knowledge is important to implement nationally determined contributions [NDCs] to the global climate agenda and its measures to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation [REDD+] by promoting sustainable cocoa value chains,” says lead author and CIFOR senior scientist Denis Sonwa.

Since COP21, the world’s largest chocolate companies – Mars, Nestle and Ferrero to name a few – have come together in a variety of agreements, from an agreement signed by the Prince of Wales to a sectorial “Frameworks for Action” at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The goal is to see the industry achieve net-zero deforestation and improve local livelihoods, and this research is a crucial step along the way.

Read also: Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire

COCOA’S COMRADES

The researchers aimed to answer a string of questions including how carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests varied across ecological zones and management methods, and how carbon storage compared between different types of plants associated with cocoa – and the stocks of some key species, in particular.

“What we found is that agroforests with a high density of high-economic value industrial timber and non-timber forest products stored two to three times the amount captured by other management systems,” explains Sonwa.

A dish of cacao beans awaits processing in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Plantations with a high density of banana plants and oil palm trees came next, and those with cocoa tree densities of 70% or higher came in last. Specifically, the above-ground parts of plants in these varied types of cocoa agroforests stored 147 Mg of carbon per hectare, 49 Mg and 39 Mg, respectively.

Researchers also found that above-ground parts of the other plants accounted for 70% of the carbon storage, while cocoa trees accounted for only 5%.

Across all three ecological zones, high-value timber accounts for 29.7% of the total carbon stored above ground, at 49.9 Mg per hectare; edible species for 15%; and medicinal plants for 6%.

Read also: Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?

RICH PICKINGS

Another conclusion of the study is that “the top ten species generally stored more than 50% of carbon held by associated plants,” with Terminalia superba – a tall deciduous tree native to the African tropics – among the species with a higher storage (14 Mg per hectare).

These results “suggest that associated plants not only contribute to shade, but also increase the capacity of farms to store carbon,” notes the study. And the benefits of such plants go well beyond that. Indeed, the higher ecocapacity of cocoa agroforests lead to increases in plant litter fall, soil litter and rainfall, thus upgrading both the agronomic and environmental potential of the landscape. Meanwhile, a plantation solely growing cocoa does threaten overall agro-ecological sustainability.

Sonwa points out that non-cocoa plants provide a structure similar to that of forests, and that their products and services appear as cobenefits of cocoa agroforestry in addition to carbon storage. Timber, non-wood forest products such as fruit, and medicinal plants may all contribute to local livelihoods and to biodiversity conservation.

“Simultaneously obtaining several products and services from the same plantation increases the resilience of farmers,” he says. “That is particularly important as the pressure on natural resources increases.”

Read also: Greater inclusion of women is needed to optimally intensify cocoa value chains, researchers find

BEYOND THE BEANS

In the last few decades, the main goal of cocoa agroforests was to produce cocoa beans, but demographic growth, climate change and loss of forests are changing this approach.

For the researchers, the multiple functions of cocoa agroforests should be at the center of efforts to fight global warming and achieve better outcomes for people and the planet. “This is why our findings are useful to scientists, and also to decision-makers, farmers and the private sector,” says Sonwa.

The findings of the paper can, for example, be useful to certification schemes that want to improve the environmental footprint of the cocoa sector. They also offer key insights to cocoa agroforest managers, particularly given the current context where zero deforestation targets are at the center of many company agendas.

In Sub-Saharan Africa where most of the world’s cocoa originates, the paper is certainly useful in structuring efforts to free the cocoa value chain from deforestation. But going beyond that, in central Africa and the Congo Basin, it sheds light by offering productive agroforestry options that conserve remaining natural forests while providing livelihoods.

“We have examined cocoa agroforests from an ecological perspective, so the next step would be to look at economic and production aspects,” says Sonwa. “For example, does storing more carbon in associated plants affect cocoa production — and how?”

The findings make clear that sustainable cocoa agroforest management in Sub-Saharan African forest landscapes can reconcile cocoa bean production with climate change responses, and big global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But, it also makes clear how much there is left to learn about chocolate.

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Denis Sonwa at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

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  • Finding a way in for better landscape governance

Finding a way in for better landscape governance

A water porter makes his way to a gold panning area in Sindri village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A dry landscape is seen in Burkina Faso. Photo by D. Tiveau/CIFOR

Study in Ghana and Burkina Faso finds an entry point for landscape approaches in natural resource management schemes.

Landscape approaches provide a framework to find solutions to social, environmental and economic challenges in Africa. In the past, sectoral approaches were often used to manage land, but more and more experts agree that integrated approaches are needed to ensure that landscapes are managed sustainably.

With this kind of approach, a landscape would be managed in such a way that it provides environmental services for more than one group or sector. For example, a single landscape could be managed in an integrated way to become a source of water for local communities and agriculture, provide trees for timber, support local biodiversity and give shade for cocoa farming. In this way, integrated landscape approaches can also contribute to solving global environmental challenges such as biodiversity loss, food insecurity and climate change.

Read also: Stepping up to the challenge to end poverty and hunger without trashing the planet

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) explored three established natural resource management schemes in the West African nations of Burkina Faso and Ghana to see if they could identify locally embedded entry points for implementing integrated landscape approaches.

“All three have interacting land uses, whether through agroforestry systems common throughout Burkina Faso, or a mosaic of wildlife reserves, food production and timber tree planting in Ghana,” said researcher Mirjam Ros-Tonen from the University of Amsterdam.

“But they all face deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change and persistent poverty,” added Samson Foli, also from UvA.

A water porter makes his way to a gold panning area in Sindri village, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

THREE SCHEMES, THREE RESULTS

All three schemes target landscape degradation and involve local communities. The Chantier d’Aménagement Forestier (CAF) scheme encompasses forest management sites across Burkina Faso.

In Ghana, the Modified Taungya System (MTS) aims to restore degraded forest reserves while allowing farmers to interplant food crops, and the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) target wildlife conservation and livelihood diversification at the fringes of protected areas and wildlife reserves, through participatory natural resource management.

The team scored each scheme on five design principles for integrated landscape approaches derived from a previous study. These include extent of integration, adaptive management and continual learning, polycentric governance, multi-stakeholder involvement and capacity-building. The degree of alignment with these principles help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the schemes as entry points for landscape approaches.

“We found challenges in all areas to varying degrees. For example, we found that farmers in Ghana’s MTS had a share in the timber revenues but little say in the design, implementation and running of the MTS,” says Ros-Tonen.

“Secondly, farmers are unable to produce food on MTS lands after about three years when food crops do no longer survive under the shade of the canopy.”

Read also: Forests as food: New report highlights important relationship between forest landscapes and healthy diets

The study shows that a lack of long-term funding and economic incentives threaten the program, while top-down governance arrangements stifle a genuine move toward more collaborative decision-making, power-sharing and institutional diversity.

In Burkina Faso, it was a similar story.

Trees dot the scenery in the Kongoussi area, Burkina Faso. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

“In Burkina, the CAF scheme called for co-ops to be involved in decision-making, but a lot of the time local people don’t have the resources to go or prepare for the meetings, so they don’t attend,” Foli says.

ONE SCHEME RISES TO THE TOP

Although these two schemes could succeed if improvements are made, Ghana’s CREMA approach showed more potential.

“The CREMA does a better job at various levels by allowing people to be directly involved in conservation and natural resource use because they have total autonomy,” Foli says.

“They have the liberty to do establish ecotourism initiatives, or game sanctuaries, or other income-generating and local capacity-building projects. Because they are empowered, they have a progressive trajectory, and with government assistance, they receive periodic training from the Forestry Commission or NGOs,” he adds.

The study shows that the CREMA is the only scheme that explicitly deals with trade-offs between conservation and development aims. The CREMA was also found to take a more flexible approach compared to the other two schemes that have a more rigid decision-making structure.

The researchers found that government forestry and land-use planning institutions conduct conservation programs with little consideration for existing norms used by local people in conserving natural resources. Only the CREMA initiative takes local knowledge and practices for the conservation and sustainable use explicitly into account.

“But the CREMA isn’t perfect. We found that all three schemes needed to have a monitoring and evaluation component. This is especially needed here, as all three have been established as a response to failure of past conservation strategies. So we need to know if they are fulfilling their set goals or not,” Foli says.

MORE WORK AHEAD

The study also points to the need for continual learning and a management structure that can adapt to change. The researchers concluded that the CREMA can be improved by building platforms for the exchange and co-creation of knowledge and experimental learning at all levels. In other words, working toward a holistic landscape approach guided by an advanced set of the principles.

“We are also seeing more and more stakeholders becoming involved — NGOs, government, researchers, communities — and that’s a good thing. But for any scheme to be successful, the community and local groups need a bigger voice,” Foli says.

The researchers stress that a realistic perspective is needed to ensure integrated landscape approaches succeed, and that means being flexible in translating the guiding principles based on local context and conservation objectives.

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the Conservation and Sustainable use of Tropical Forest Biodiversity program financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and WOTRO Science for Global Development/Food and Business Applied Research Fund through the TREEFARMS project.

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  • Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Cacao pods are collected and heaped on the forest floor, where fermentation begins. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International
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A farmer in Ghana prunes a Carabobo cacao tree, which is originally from Venezuela. Photo by R. Markham/Bioversity International

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world and in recent years has emerged as the world’s principal supplier of Fairtrade-certified cocoa — about 6% of national production falls under that scheme. Multisector collaboration is needed to address persistent challenges and to support Ghana’s overall move to a sustainable cocoa sector.

The world’s favorite treat has never been more popular. In the past decade, the chocolate industry’s demand for cocoa has increased by 12% and production has barely been able to keep pace. Growing demand, particularly from emerging economies like China and India, is good news for the industry.

At the same time, about 6 million cocoa producers — more than 90% of them smallholders — face significant challenges: low productivity, poverty in the producing communities, and limited infrastructure to connect producers with buyers. Improved and diverse planting stock that can resist pest and diseases, thrive in poor soils and grow in changing climatic conditions is in short supply.

With an annual production of about 750,000 to 1 million tons, Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world. In recent years, Ghana has also emerged as the world’s principal supplier of Fairtrade-certified cocoa, with about 6% of national production falling under that scheme.

Yet a new report carried out for Fairtrade Africa by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), concludes that monetary benefits derived from Fairtrade cocoa remain low, contributing on average an additional 2% of cocoa income for certified farmers. At the same time, cooperatives use part of the Fairtrade Premium to provide their members with farming inputs and training, and to fund overall community development.

Read more: Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana: taking stock and looking ahead

Cacao pods are collected and heaped on the forest floor, where fermentation begins. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

This relates to the fact that only part of the Fairtrade Premium of US$200 per ton is channeled through the cooperatives to the producers as a cash bonus (16 to 65% of the premium), while the remainder is given as farming inputs like fertilizers, agrochemicals and planting materials (up to 38%), or allocated to fund trainings, cooperative administration, and certification fees (20 to 84%) and overall community development (up to 15%).

One way that voluntary standards like Fairtrade try to empower producers is through the creation of new business organizations such as rural cooperatives. These efforts can go hand-in-hand with those of the cocoa industry, which supports farmers in rejuvenating their aging cocoa plantations.

For the cocoa sector to become sustainable, it will also be critical to attract younger farmers to become cacao producers, empowering them to generate enough income to sustain their families and communities. Rural cooperatives can support this aim but, as the report points out, increased membership of these organizations is only sustainable if sales under Fairtrade terms grow at least at the same rate, which is currently not happening.

The report also points at the importance of diversified production systems, allowing the farmers to be less reliant on cocoa as a principal source of income. Cacao can be planted together with other crops, in particular fruit and timber trees that provide shade for the young cacao saplings and help improve nutrition and income.

Cacao pods are seen on a tree in Ghana. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

Such diversification makes for more resilient production and livelihood systems. For example, a study* of the relationship between cocoa cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity found that “cacao farms with diverse shade have the potential to support greater local diversity and act as a more effective refuge for some tropical forest organisms than alternative lowland tropical crops, particularly annual crops and cattle pasture.”

The third main finding was that Fairtrade farmers have improved access to training compared to non-members — 99% of cooperative members reported having received training on good agricultural practices, such as pruning and replanting, versus 51% of non-members.

Still, average productivity on Fairtrade-certified farms is within the range of the national average and additional efforts are needed to increase cacao productivity.

Read also: Sweeter deals: Prospects for expanding Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana

Dietmar Stoian from Bioversity International, one of the authors of the study added: “This study provides Fairtrade International, the four recently Fairtrade-certified cocoa cooperatives sampled, and other stakeholders in Ghana’s cocoa sector with a baseline for future impact assessments. The indicators developed for household- and cooperative-level measurements point at potential areas of impact and allow for continuous improvement.”

“In a follow-up study in Ghana, we are now taking a broader look at the country’s move toward a sustainable cocoa sector by identifying the actual and potential role of impact investment, social lending and other responsible finance schemes and their interactions with diverse certification systems to ensure environmental and social impact in addition to financial returns.”

The report was well received by Fairtrade International, and their management’s response concludes that: “We recognize that the coops have many support needs and we agree that key challenges include growing sales, increasing cocoa productivity, supporting agricultural diversification, and strengthening of cooperatives to be able to achieve greater member engagement and gender equality.”

As a result of this study, Fairtrade International will be reviewing the Fairtrade Premium.

Originally published on the website of Bioversity International


The report Baseline for Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade Certification on Cocoa Farmers and Cooperatives in Ghana, jointly elaborated by the World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International, is based on data gathered from 422 households belonging to four Fairtrade-certified cooperative unions, and 80 households from non-certified cooperatives. Data was collected based on indicators from Fairtrade’s Theory of Change and the 5Capitals methodology for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development developed by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International.

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Programs on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. We thank Transfair Germany and Fairtrade International for funding the project and the donors who support FTA and PIM through their contributions to the CGIAR Funds. We extend our gratitude to reviewers from Fairtrade International, the Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade Africa and Transfair Germany. We also appreciate the willingness of representatives of Cooperative Unions and Licensed Buying Companies COCOBOD, who generously shared their insights and experiences.

*Rice, R.A. and Greenberg, R., 2000. Cacao cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 29 (3): 167-173.

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  • Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Ghana

Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Côte d’ Ivoire and Ghana, the two biggest Fairtrade cocoa producers in West Africa, provide about 68 percent of the Fairtrade cocoa that is sold under Fairtrade terms in global markets. In 2013, the volume of Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa reached 133 400 t, involving some 71 cooperatives and producer associations and 138 800 farmers. Most Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa originates from Côte d’Ivoire (CDI) and Ghana, the latter being the subject of this report.

Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana has expanded rapidly in recent years: between 2009 and 2014, sales increased from 481 to 54 600 tonnes, while the number of Fairtrade cooperative unions grew from only one in 2009 to 11 in 2014. The expanding Fairtrade cocoa sector in Ghana faces many of the same challenges as the West African cocoa sector as a whole, including low productivity and poverty in farming communities, limited infrastructure, a rapidly aging farming population, lack of electricity and portable water, and few examples of strong rural cooperatives or other forms of smallholder business organizations.

In this context, important questions arise, such as: What are the capacities and the potential of cooperatives and resource-poor farmers to benefit from participation in Fairtrade certification? How can Fairtrade and partners help address the constraints and opportunities faced by cocoa growers, cooperatives and other players in the cocoa chain?


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