This project will promote the adoption of cocoa-agroforestry and off-farm reforestation following a community-based approach as a major strategy for enhancing conservation outcomes while also seeking to improve rural livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families. Moreover, the project aims to enhance women empowerment through the development of microenterprises managed by women. The long-term impact objective of this project is to simultaneously improve the income and living standards of cocoa farmers and their communities and to end further deforestation for production of cocoa.
The Project will focus on the following living income drivers.
The project will promote agroforestry models which will deliver a mix a various ecosystem services, including soil fertility, watershed health, biodiversity and pollination, and climate change adaptation with subsequent long-term positive and stabilizing impact on cocoa farm yields and productivity. Through continuous technical assistance, farmer training on Good Agricultural Practices and Agroforestry, as well as one-to-one farmer coaching the project aims to ensure that cocoa farmers have the right information to implement efficient inputs and labor use to secure cocoa farm productivity and optimize return on investment of agroforestry.
The project will identify market opportunities for the creation of additional and new income streams. As such, the project will coordinate efforts with a new or existing (timber) companies as a key activity to install long-term agreements on the commercialization of agroforestry products.
Deforestation is a huge challenge in the West Sassandra region. Due to the socio-political crises between 1999 and 2011, and the consequent displacement of populations and decline in land productivity in the Centre, the forest of the South-West is under high pressure. While the South West forest still covered 37% of the national territory in 1960, it decreased to less than 14% in 2010. The highly degraded Classified Forests of Rapides Grah & Haute Dodo are also located in this region, as well as the Taï National Park (4.63 M ha), which has been identified as a high conservation value area, with biodiversity hotspots and endemic species.
The project provides access to agroforestry inputs for distributing, planting, growing and monitoring 100.000-120.000 trees. Trees on farms restore ecosystems as they generate favorable ecosystem services, such as water conservation, soil enrichment, wind breaks and shade. This also helps farmers adapting to climate change and extreme weather events. When cocoa production is complemented diversifying activities, farmers and their communities can then better respond to fluctuations in cocoa profitability without imminent trigger to expand farming to new forested areas.
The project recognizes female and male farmers experience different opportunities and hurdles to access climate services and information in agricultural decision-making and that if gender dynamics are not addressed, this may lead to unintended consequences. Therefore, the project partners will focus on the relation between women and men in value chain interventions and include gender considerations in training curricula and direct farmer engagement strategies.
The project is working with Empow’her to engage 50-70 women that are part of community associations and women’s groups in an ideation phase that inspires them on initiating innovative and inclusive approaches applicable to agroforestry-related activities. This is expected to lead to the incubation of 12 micro-enterprises that complement community-agroforestry and reforestation, stimulate environmental awareness and enable the creation of local economies around the production and marketing of agroforestry inputs and products.