Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana (ESP I)


The “Environmental Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana” project was a partnership between the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and UNDP. The overall objective of the project was to create institutional systems, tools and policies to rehabilitate cocoa landscapes; conserve and expand forests, forest buffer zones and corridors; and incentivize cocoa farmers to adopt environmentally friendly best practices.

The project worked to address key policy issues that pose major environmental threats to sustainable cocoa landscapes and to strengthen the institutions that work in the sector. Furthermore, the project piloted mechanisms that serve as incentives to farmers to adopt environmentally sound production practices resulting in the rejuvenation of ecosystem goods and services, on-farm biodiversity, and increased productivity.

Taken together, project activities promoted a model that can be adopted nationally to enhance the capacity of COCOBOD and other stakeholders in the cocoa sector including farmers to participate in selected activities to maximize the economic benefits of sustainable production and biodiversity conservation as a counterweight to factors driving deforestation and environmental degradation.

Mondelez International, UNDP and COCOBOD agreed to continue the partnership until 2020, for a new phase of the project, considering the positive results obtained by the first phase, which will take stock of the lessons learned in the previous three years and expand interventions to new districts. This is in alignment with the partners’ commitment to continue to address deforestation issues and increasing the sustainability of cocoa landscapes optimum production.


● The initiative has piloted the establishment of a Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) with 36 communities and a total land area of 21,574 hectares in the Asunafo North Municipality to promote community rights to manage and benefit from natural resources and to ensure long-term sustainable resource management with enhanced community rights for forest governance in the area.

● Nearly 10,000 smallholder farmers (21% of them female farmers) have benefited from training in environmental cocoa production practices, forest laws and regulations, and community tree tenure rights, by learning the benefits of trees on farms and on the existing legislation that allows farmers to become owners of the trees they plant and sound farming practices that reduce climate change and improve environmental quality.

● More than 800,000 economic tree seedlings were distributed for plantings to enhance both tree and carbon stocks on farms, which greatly supported communities to plant seedlings along waterways and protected areas and promoted the reforestation of 8,500 hectares of degraded land.

● 1,400 cocoa farmers and 142 District Extension Coordinators, as well as Community Extension Agents from COCOBOD, have built the capacities via training, held in 13 districts across the country.

● Over 500 students and their teachers have now much greater awareness and understanding of climate change and its impacts on the environment – especially on the local cocoa agronomy through the formation of environmental clubs in 16 schools in the Asunafo North Municipality.

Field monitoring records have shown a progressive planting success. This has motivated farmers to plant more trees, which shield the cocoa plants from excessive sunlight and keep the soil moist during dry seasons. The trees also serve as carbon sinks and provide oxygen, which replenishes the environment.

● The project conducted and disseminated two separate studies and recommendations on land and tree tenure rights in cocoa landscapes to facilitate policy actions on environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation in cocoa production landscapes.


The total budget was US$ 1.7 million and it was financed by the Mondelēz Cocoa Life Programme.  

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