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New project to help cocoa farmers tackle climate change

A project based on applied climate science has been launched to help cocoa farmers in Ghana adapt to the effects of climate change.
The project, which targets cocoa-based farming systems in Ghana, leverages existing value chain interventions and will translate climate science into actionable strategies for farmers and supporting actors including industry, certifiers and investors.
The Mainstreaming Climate-Smart Cocoa in Ghana project will assess the climate change exposure of cocoa systems, develop appropriate practices with farmers by incorporating cash crops and food crops to increase resilience of the systems and classify the practices in adaptation guidelines.
The three-year project valued at US$2.8 million was presented at theOur Common Future under Climate Change Conference in Paris, France last month (8 July).
In May this year, CGIAR, through its Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), launched the initiative in Ghana.
The project is being implemented by a consortium made up of CCAFS, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture(IITA), Rainforest Alliance, Root Capital and Sustainable Food Lab.
Sander Muilerman, a project manager of rural development andsustainable cocoa systems at IITA, Ghana and co-author of the poster, which showcased the project at the conference, says cocoa is increasingly becoming vulnerable to climate change.
“The guidelines will be mainstreamed through existing certification training curricula and used to develop innovative impact investment products that will help finance and increase the adoption of identified adaptation strategies,” Muilerman notes.
The project will benefit from research on coffee in East Africa, bringing, testing and validating solutions that work on coffee to West Africa and cocoa, Muilerman adds.
The West African region accounts for 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans production, with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana accounting for more than half of the world´s cocoa, according to the World Cocoa Foundation.
Results obtained from the project will be promoted through broader outreach with other standards organisations, impact investors,government agencies and industry leaders, Muilerman, says.
Mark Lundy, an agro-enterprise development specialist at CIAT in Colombia, says in the last decade research centres have produced maps showing the potential impact of climate change on key crops including cocoa and coffee, but have not done much to make the maps help farmers.
“This project is novel in its clear focus on translating climate risk exposure maps into concrete adaptation options with value chain actors through the identification of specific [climate-smart agricultural] practices by level of climate change exposure and then testing how this information can be made available to the largest number of value chain actors possible,” he explains.

 Augustine Biri Boateng, the secretary of Krobo Group, a cocoa farmer’s association in Ghana, says the project will benefit cocoa farmers because most of them do not have adequate money to buy agro-chemicals and fertilisers.

Boateng adds that although the government of Ghana is helping cocoa farmers with improved seeds, black pod disease in the cocoa sector is a problem they face.

Source: scidev.net

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