Cocoaagroforestry in Ghana
Even though world-wide demand for cocoa is increasing, cocoa producing regions are suffering from declining yields because of declining soil fertility, climate change, and disease, which significantly threatens cocoa supply chains. Agroforestry has been suggested as a practice to counteract declining yields, but quantitative data on the effects of shade trees in cocoa systems are scarce and implementation of agroforestry practices are limited. In collaboration with the Soil Research Institute(SRI) and the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) we aim:
1) to understand the effects of tree abundance and specific tree traits on cocoa production through their independent and combined effects on soil nutrient and water status, and sub-canopy micro climate (fellow’s current project),
2) to identify the main socio-economic constraints that prevent the implementation of bestagroforestry practices (kickstart project), and
3)to combine this information in order to identify management practices that are bio physically and socio-economically feasible to maximize and sustain cocoa yields in Ghana (kick start project).
The collaboration with Ghanaian partners allow us to use an interdisciplinary approach,combining field studies and participatory workshops with local stakeholders to address these goals.
Field surveys in close collaboration with Dr. Edward Yeboah (soil scientist, SRI) is used to determine how trees influence biophysical parameters (e.g. soil fertility and micro climate) that control cocoa production. A participatory workshop is organized under the lead of Dr. Beatrice Obiri (socio-economist, FORIG) to allow us to identify constraints for the implementation of agro forestry practices. Results from both approaches is combined to identify how cocoa production can be increased sustainably on the ground. Outcomes of the project directly benefit all stake holders involved, while also expanding the scientific knowledge about cocoa agroforestry.
This kick-starting grant allows us to more effectively incorporate local stakeholders in our envisioned project in Ghana by allowing us to travel to Ghana to perform participatory workshops with local stakeholders. In addition, it allows a Ghanaian scientist to travel to Switzerland to perform part of the laboratory analysis at our facilities at ETH Zurich. The skills and knowledge gained from a two-way visit provide the foundation to develop a larger, ongoing collaborative research effort and likely to increase the acceptance of our results by including local partners from the onset to the end of the project.
The major goal of the fellows current project is to show the extent to which agroforestry can prevent deterioration of soils and ameliorate the negative effects of climate change by providing favourable micro climates for cocoa production. The major goal of the kick-starting project is to advance the fellows current project by:
1) Identifying and quantifying the main socio-economic constraints that prevent the implementation of best agroforestry practices, and
2) Co-developing management practices with local stakeholders, that are bio physically and socio-economically feasible to maximize and sustain cocoa yields in Ghana.
Wilma Blaser, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Edward Yeboah, CSIR-Soil Research Institute, Kwadaso, Kumasi Ghana