Conservation Alliance of Ghana (CA) is a non-profit that serves as a catalyst for biodiversity conservation and improved socioeconomic conditions in African communities. They used their grant from BACP to undertake a campaign to mainstream biodiversity conservation into cocoa production landscapes in Bia district in Southwest Ghana. This area is home to Bia National Park and multiple forest reserves, and provides habitat for scattered elephant populations that have been separated through landscape fragmentation.
Prior to initiation of the campaign, CA produced a baseline report on the socioeconomic and environmental status of the target area, using existing studies and data gathered through a ground confirmation survey. Next, CA implemented a campaign to raise awareness among communities in the target area around the connections between agriculture, biodiversity loss, water availability, and climate change, and educate farmers about their roles as ecosystem managers. These messages were spread through radio programs, presentations, community meetings, and open discussions.
CA also produced a manual documenting best practices for training farmers on sustainable cocoa production. The training included subjects like Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Shade Management, Biodiversity Conservation, Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC), Certification and Cocoa as Business. The manual was field tested in a training for five facilitators. Facilitators then used the manual to train 59 literate farmers, twelve of whom were women, from twelve communities in the area.
CA performed an economic assessment of premiums for the adoption of Rainforest Alliance certification by Bia farmers, and then held meetings with producers, Rainforest Alliance, and potential buyers to prepare farmers for certification and sale of certified cocoa. CA also developed a community-based monitoring protocol to assess the impacts of their campaign, and the ability and willingness of farmers to adopt recommended practices. A draft database was created to store data generated from project monitoring efforts.
At press time, CA was closing in on partnerships with buyers, traders and local processing plants, and looking toward setting up a marketing system. Farmers have already made changes in their shade and labor management, and seen resulting improvements in ecological health and reduced incidence of pests and diseases. CA's campaign of education and the implementation of data collection has set a solid foundation for continued promotion of biodiversity-friendly cocoa production models for years to come.