‘COP28’: Asunafo-Asutifi Landscape Programme launched

By: Kwame Adinkrah

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor, MP for Damango, has launched the Asunafo-Asutifi Landscape Programme at the on-going Conference of Parties (COP 28) in Dubai.

The Asunafo-Asutifi Landscape Programme is set within the framework of the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme, aimed at establishing a deforestation-free, climate-resilient cocoa landscape.

At a packed Ghana’s pavilion at the Expo Center in Dubai, where COP 28 is being held, Hon. Jinapor expressed gratitude for the joint effort to ensure the sustainable and harm-free production of cocoa, as it is essential to the livelihoods of millions of people in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Anchored on the three (3) pillars of forest protection and restoration, sustainable cocoa production and farmers livelihood, and community engagement and social inclusion, the Minister said the programme has laid a solid foundation for a sustainable and responsible cocoa industry, resulting in the restoration of over seventeen thousand hectares (17,000 ha) of degraded forests both on and off reserves.

Over twenty-seven million (27,000,000) trees have been distributed for planting, and over one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) farmers have been trained in climate-smart cocoa practices, with as many as six hundred and seventy thousand (670,000) trained in Good Agricultural Practices.

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister said the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) has increased traceability in cocoa production. In 2022, for instance, eighty-four percent (84%) of cocoa sourced from Ghana was directly traceable from the farm to the first purchasing point, as compared to seventy-two percent (72%) in 2021.

These measures have contributed immensely to addressing illegalities in the cocoa value chain as well as the drivers of deforestation in Ghana’s cocoa sector, such as forest degradation and the expansion of cocoa farms into protected areas and have increased farmers’ cocoa yields from six hundred kilograms per hectare (600 kg/ha) in 2021 to seven hundred kilograms per hectare (700 kg/ha).

Hon. Jinapor intimated that as the climate crisis worsened and the fears of approaching global boiling grew, the world must renew its commitments to protect our forests through the implementation of CFI 2.0. He said that Ghana remains resolute in this regard and will continue to adopt and implement policies and programmes that will ensure that the Cocoa and Forest Initiative realizes its goal.

Addressing participants of COP 28, Hon. Jinapor emphasized that the Asunafo-Asutifi Landscape Programme will promote effective partnerships and increase investments in the landscapes that are aligned with in-country policies and programmes and the principal goal is to use it as a model to be replicated across all cocoa-growing areas in the country.

He again stressed that “to improve forest governance, the Government of Ghana is also implementing a Timber Tending Benefit (TTB), which provides an upfront payment to farmers for nurturing and protecting naturally occurring trees on their farms.”

To this end, he added that to encourage sustainable farming practices and ensure that farmers get value from their produce, the Government of Ghana has increased the cocoa producer price by sixty-three-point five percent (63.5%), from sixty-six US dollars and sixty cents (US$66.60) per bag to one hundred and nine US dollars (US$109), the highest price to be paid to farmers across West Africa in fifty (50) years.

The MP for Damango indicated that the objectives of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative align with the Government of Ghana’s policy for the forestry sector: to halt deforestation and forest degradation, restore our lost forest cover, and contribute to global efforts to build a sustainable and healthy planet for current and future generations.

Riding on the success of CFI 1.0, he said, “We must work to make CFI 2.0 even more impactful; we must work together to prohibit activities that contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in cocoa-growing areas; we must promote effective restoration and long-term conservation measures; we must increase investments in priority landscapes; and we must adopt effective monitoring and reporting systems to assess progress on the implementation of this initiative.”

Evans Osei-Bonsu

Evans is a radio producer @PureFM (95.7MHz) under the Angel Broadcasting Network (ABN Ghana), writer, student of Law and Politics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

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