Mainstreaming Biodiversity into the Cocoa Growing Landscape in the Kakum Conservation Area in Ghana



  • Conservation Alliance


  • 25/11/2014

  • REGION :

  • Western Africa


  • Ghana (Central Region)


  • The overall goal of the project is to mainstream biodiversity conservation into the cocoa growing landscape in the Kakum Conservation Area. This landscape which is a biodiversity hotspot also supports over 5000 cocoa farmers and their families. These farmers and their families like other cocoa farmers elsewhere in Ghana and the West African sub-region are producing cocoa at the fringes of forest reserves. With help from Conservation Alliance and its collaborators, these farmers are being organized into formal groups and trained in modern methods of cultivating cocoa. The results are increase in the understanding and minimal use of agrochemicals, biodiversity and climate change issues and a resultant improvement of the socio-economic situation of these rural folks.


  • Forests, Cocoa Production, Agroforestry, Rural Development


  • Yaw Osei-Owusu, Vincent Awotwe Pratt, Ernestina Osei-Peprah, Paa Kofi Osei-Owusu


Cocoa production is a major economic activity for rural folks in the Upper Guinea Hotspot, one of the world’s 25 biologically rich (Ministry of Environment and Science 2002) and the most endangered terrestrial region. Cocoa farms constitute a threat to the region’s global significance in terms of biodiversity but also present an opportunity to conserve it. The government of Ghana recognizes these threats to the cocoa industry and the present focus of the national cocoa policy is to increase production in existing fields by encouraging better agronomic practices and rehabilitation of old farms. This direction of the policy is consistent with the National Biodiversity Strategy, which places a strong emphasis on conserving the remaining forests in Ghana.

The Approach

With support from the a number of collaborators including industry and confessionary companies, Conservation Alliance with its collaborators initiated a project to mainstream biodiversity conservation into the cocoa growing landscape in the Kakum Conservation Area. Under this initiative, producers were sensitized (Figure 2) on the need to protect their environment, observe wildlife laws and mitigate conflicts between wildlife (esp. elephants) and humans.  Over 2500 farmers living in 25 communities in the Kakum Conservation Area were sensitized on a number of issues including climate change and biodiversity conservation issues.

Figure 1 Community Education and Sensitization at Nkwanta

Baseline information was collected to assess the knowledge base of the farmers and the analysis of this information was used to develop a training manual for training farmers. Topics covered in the manual include cocoa agroforestry principles, wise use of agrochemicals, shade management, human-wildlife conflict management and biodiversity conservation issues. There were special modules on financial literacy, social issues, health and safety and add-ons to fully equip the farmers and their families to fully grow their small enterprise.  Training was delivered using the modified version of the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach with both classroom as in Figure 3 and field demonstration sessions.

Figure 2 Farmers partake in Group Work during a Farmer Field School Session at Doryumu

To be able to monitor the adoption of best practices, a community-based monitoring tool which enables farmers and their families living in the Kakum Conservation Area to estimate yield, track expenses and predict changes was developed based on modern GIS technologies. Data collected as part of this process include biodiversity on the farm, socioeconomic data and financial information.

The farmers were taught how to observe and report the occurrence of critical and flagship species on their farms. Knowledgeable and motivated community members where selected to be trained together with staff of Conservation Alliance and its partners (Figure 4) on methods of field data collection, the use of the GPS and other tools for field data collection and management of the data collected.

Figure 3 A Field Enumerator sets up a GIS-enabled IPAQ to teach a Farmer its use for mapping his farm and that of his neighbours


As a result of this intervention, more than 2500 farmers and their families living in the Kakum Conservation Area have been educated on biodiversity and climate change issues using a number of approaches including community meetings (Figure 5), durbars, and media campaigns using community information centers. Also 350 farmers selected from 17 communities were enrolled into various farmer field schools which were established within the communities. These farmers were taken through the various stages of cocoa production and also their facilitating skills enhanced to enable them deliver training to other farmers in the area. It is expected that each of these farmers will train 3 more farmers per year. By this cascading model, it is expected that all farmers will be trained after sometime in the project area. It was also strongly observed that Biodiversity data collection and farm mapping has brought light to the project.

Figure 4 Education and Sensitization at Aboabo Camp

Farmers are very happy to see how their farms look like on the computer after it has been mapped. A printed copy of their farm map is handed over to the farmer to assist in planning work on the farm and also to make decisions concerning the application of agrochemicals, fertilizers and shade trees on the farm.

Figure 5 Aba Awontaa looks on as a Field Enumerator tells her the size of her farm after a mapping exercise

Farmers have testified that knowing the correct size of their farms has helped saved funds that would have been used to purchase chemicals. For example, Anthony Carr of Paaso who  thought he owned a 5 acre farm now sees that his farm is only 3 acres and thus he needs only 9 bags of fertilizer for the farm instead of the 15 bags he used to purchase per year.

This according to him has saved him GHC 300 which he plans to use it to change his roofing sheets from thatch to aluminum sheets. Also Aba Awontaa of Akwaayaw in Figure 6 admits that she has broken a cycle of annually been indebted to money lenders who charge her high interests because she realized that out of the 706 trees on her 1 acre farm less than 100 trees (less than 15%) are high yielding (bearing more than 40 pods per year) and so she has planned to replant her field with high yielding hybrid seedling which she intends to buy from their community nursery.


  • Conservation Alliance. 2012. Overview of the Cocoa Program.
  • Ministry Of Environment and Science. 2002. National Biodiversity Strategy for Ghana.