The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mondelez-Cocoa Life are playing a significant role in the Ghanaian Cocoa sector by contributing to enhance the capacity of Extension workers on sustainable environmental practices.
The extension service in the area of sustainable cocoa production has been weak in capacity, content and delivery to farmers. Institutional structures and manpower know-how to deal with the situation appears to be very fragile. Also, many farmers and extension workers lack knowledge on environmentally sustainable cocoa farming practices.
Realizing this challenge, the UNDP in collaboration with Mondelez Cocoa Life through the Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana Project (ESP) developed a supplementary cocoa manual for training extension workers to broaden their knowledge. Over two hundred (200) cocoa extension officers have been trained on current trends of sustainable environmental practices to help improve the situation.
Speaking at the workshop held in Bunso in the Eastern Region, the Technical Manager of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), Mr. William Minta Wiafi said, “The materials were excellent and have enhanced the knowledge of the extension agents and coordinators on contemporary methodologies, sustainability concepts and techniques as well as the opportunity for practical knowledge to reverse the current trends in unsustainable farming practices.”
He encouraged the officers to incorporate the knowledge gained in environmental sustainability practices in their scheduled engagement with farmers.
“Previously we had been telling farmers not to undertake certain harmful practices without having adequate knowledge to explain to them the harmful effects behind such practices, but after the training we now have a better understanding of what we have been telling farmers to desist from such as bush burning.” Said Priscilla Asare-Danquah, a cocoa extension coordinator at Tafo in the Eastern region.
Frank Antwi Amamoo, also a community extension agent in the Agona Nyakrom District in the Central Region said “The workshop has really exposed me to deeper understanding of soil and water conservation, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation in cocoa landscapes which are critical for sustainable cocoa production.” He added that the training had equipped him with the vital techniques and practical skills in sustainable production practices.
In 2015, The Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production project with the support of UNDP and Mondelez trained close to 200 COCOBOD field officers on the general framework on environmental sustainability in cocoa landscapes.