Armajaro worked with Bioversity to develop a rapid biodiversity assessment (RBA) methodology to capture data on plant biodiversity in cocoa farms. The organizations performed a literature review, field tested the top three methodologies they discovered, and then selected the methodology most suitable in terms of accuracy, time and cost.
Next, Armajaro trained surveyors in the methodology, who then gathered data from more than 10,250 farms across five cocoa regions of Ghana. The set of biodiversity indicators measured included number of non-cocoa trees, species richness, shade cover, number of dead trees standing, number of banana/plantain and oil palm trees, presence and diversity of land use types adjacent to the farm, above-ground carbon stock of non-cocoa trees, vegetation structure, succession potential, native/exotic species and primary uses of trees.
Armajaro then compiled the data into a geographic information system implemented by their existing Traceability and Mapping System (TMS). This biodiversity data was cross-analyzed with data already gathered on production, farm practices and farmers’ socio-economic profiles.
Bioversity analysed the data and then made specific biodiversity training recommendations. Armajaro hired an adult learning consultant to interpret these recommendations into a Biodiversity Training Manual to enhance their standard training programme and offer cocoa farmers extra knowledge and skills. The manual contains modules on tree planting and maintenance of trees, the multifunctionality of trees and diverse landscapes, tree ownership and wildlife laws in Ghana, community natural resource mapping, and planting and maintenance of trees.
Armajaro plans to integrate and mainstream these modules into all Armajaro sustainability training programmes in Ghana, reaching approximately 65,000 farmers. After further adjustments and recommendations, the modules will be included in Nigerian sustainability programmes as well, reaching an additional 40,000 farmers. By making the new resource available through their Certification Capacity Enhancement stakeholders platform, Armajaro will be able to share the training materials with companies like Cargill, Mondelez, Continaf and Mars, possibly leading to further adaptation and implementation in Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.
Through this grant from BACP, Armajaro will help thousands of cocoa farmers gain knowledge and increase their capacity to manage and conserve on-farm biodiversity.