|Field Staff of CA and Partners gather around CA’s Geospatial Analyst for a Demonstration exercise after training. Photograph by Vincent Awotwe-Pratt|
Rural livelihoods can be readily improved when communities are well informed about their environment and their capacity is enhanced by models of knowledge dissemination using a number of approaches that are derived from data collected from the field. Knowledge sharing connects cocoa farmers and their families, particularly the vulnerable to acquire knowledge and information sharing enabling them to develop the skills and competence that is required to cultivate cocoa production in a manner that promotes economic empowerment and leadership, and provide the means to make informed choices to improve their livelihoods.
With data collected during the baseline data collection exercise, a community based monitoring protocol was developed to provide guidance for the monitoring and evaluation within the Bia Conservation Area. Data collected during 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 on methods of field data collection, the use of the GPS and other tools for field data collection and management of the data collected. This activity was made possible with financial support from BACP of IFC. With the procurement of modern GIS equipment that allows data to be collected with ease and uploaded live to a GIS web server hosted at a central location, analyses and decision making can be made right in field when the data is been collected.
Biodiversity data collection and farm mapping has brought light to the project that CA and its partners are implementing within the Bia Conservation Area. 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.
|Veronica Donkor looks on whilst a Field staff shows her data collected from her farm on a Map. Photograph by Vincent Awotwe-Pratt|
Farmers have testified that knowing the correct size of their farms has helped saved funds that use for other things. For example, Ibrahim Gyanda of Aberewakrom who thought he owned a 5acre farm now sees that his farm is only 3acres 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 Veronica Donkor of Nso Nyame Ye 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.