How UNDP is mitigating impact of climate change in cocoa growing communities in Brong-Ahafo
Climate change, according to Wikipedia definition refers to a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (decades to millions of years).
It may also refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions.
Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions.
In addition that certain human activity have been identified as primary causes of ongoing climate change, often referred to as global warming.
Scientists actively work to understand past and future Climate by using observations and theoretical models.
The societal effects of climate change are already being felt in Brong-Ahafo Region, as evidence shows that the change in temperature has affected the health, livelihoods, food productivity, and water availability in the region.
A Sharp change in rainfall pattern, drying up of rivers and receding of water bodies are some observable effects of climate change affecting mostly cocoa growing communities in Brong-Ahafo.
Big Rivers such as Tano, Bia, Tain, Goa, among others, are gradually receding due to uncontrolled human activities such as bad farming practices, illegal logging and mining (alluvia).
Being touted as the food basket of the nation, the sustainability of national food security depends heavily on the ability to address key environmental challenges associated with climate change in the Region.
Brong-Ahafo has also experienced rapid deforestation with damaging consequences for biodiversity and people who are culturally and economically dependent on forest resources and ecosystem services.
It is essential that the institutions, development partners and society as a whole, grasp the issue of long-term planning to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the region.
UNDP mitigation measures
Climate change mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases.
> Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behavior.
The UNDP has brought some relief to cocoa farmers being affected by climate change, in the Asunafo North Municipality in the Brong-Ahafo Region – the region’s largest cocoa producing area.
Climate change is seriously affecting cocoa production in the area, and according to cocoa farmers in most of the forest fringe communities in the municipality, the rainfall pattern in the area is unpredictable and remains unfavourable for cocoa and food production.
This is due to rapid depletion of the forest and destruction of the ecosystem in the forest fringe communities as a result of negative agricultural practices and unwarranted human activities such as bush burning, uncontrolled hunting expeditions, indiscriminate felling of trees, and farming along most of the river bodies in the area.
The UNDP, under its five year project to mitigate the effects of climate change in the country’s cocoa landscape, has in the past two years supplied 800,000 economic tree seedlings to more than 6,000 farmers in growing areas of the cash crop.
Named the "Environment Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana Project (ESP)", the project is being implemented in 36 communities with the distribution of local species of Mahogany and Ofram to the farmers to promote environmental sustainability production practices in cocoa growing sites, through biodiversity conservation.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), is the main implementer of the project, with additional support from the Mondelez International's Cocoa Life Programme.
In Brong-Ahafo, the project is being implemented in the Asunafo North Municipality, the largest cocoa growing area in the region.
According to Dr Augustus Asamoah, the Forestry Management and Conservation Specialist of the ESP project, 250,000 farmers in the area alone, had been supplied with the economic tree seedlings to help increase shade trees on cocoa farms and enhance carbon stocks across the cocoa landscapes.
In addition, an operational area of 21,574 hectares of land in that area, has been established to support sustainable management of forest and natural resources in the area.
Cocoa farmers at Fawohoyeden, Kasapin, Mantekrom and Jerusalem in the Municipality, said prompt intervention of the UNDP and its partners had brought hope to them.
Mr Daniel Amponsah, a cocoa farmer at Kasapin said during a visit that project had supported farmers in 46 communities in the area to plant economic tree seedlings such as Oframo, Mahogany, Emire and Cidrella and Acacia to resuscitate the forest.
Another 58-year-old farmer at Jerusalem, Mrs Elizabeth Addai said aside the farm inputs distributed to the farmers under the project; most had understood best farming practices because of the capacity building and training component of the project.
Eric Gyamfi, a Field Officer of the project, explained during the visit that environmental clubs had been formed in 16 junior high schools in the area to create the needed awareness, understanding and interest in climate change and its consequences on the environment.
The schools are Kapain Municipal Assembly (M/A), Abidjan M/A, Ampenkrom M/A, Diasibe M/A, Driverkrom SDA, Edwinase M/A, Fawohoyeden M/A and Fawohoyeden M/A ‘B’ and Fianko M/A JHS.
Others are Kasapin Wesley Methodist, Kumaho M/A, Kwaopertey M/A, Minkakrom M/A, Kumaho M/A, Peterkrom M/A, and Wam-adiemra M/A JHSs.
Mr Gyamfi said the project had supplied the clubs with sets of garden tools to establish model farms and school-based environmental activities like landscaping and tree planting as immediate measures to address the challenges of climate change.
Farmers in the beneficiary communities had also been supplied with 75,199 economic tree seedlings for plantation to protect the bumper zone.