Guiding farmers toward profitable, eco-friendly and sustainable cocoa production

Cocoa farmers breaking pods. Photo by Cynthia Prah, IITA.
Cocoa farmers breaking pods. Photo by Cynthia Prah, IITA.

Cocoa production North Face UK Outlet f   in West and Central Africa is generally low. Average yields are about 200-700kg per hectare. Surveys conducted by STCP show that as much as 40 percent of farmers in the region are at the losing  end of growing cocoa.

To enhance productivity, old and nonportlandhallhotel -productive farms need to be rehabilitated, or new cocoa farms established using best agronomic practices. In 2007, we conceived the idea of developing a comprehensive and compact manual on ecologically-friendly, profitable, and sustainable cocoa production practices that could be used to build the capacity of farmers.

In consultation with growers and cocoa experts from national and regional partner institutions across West Africa, we developed the Planting, Replanting and Diversification (PRD) Manual – a cocoa production training document that is based on mutual participatory learning between farmers and experts.

Cover page of the IITA/STCP PRD Manual. Image provided by Cynthia Prah, IITA.
Cover page of the IITA/STCP PRD Manual. Image provided by Cynthia Prah, IITA.

The PRD Manual is designed to help sharpen the skills and knowledge of farmers in carrying out best practices to rehabilitate old farms and/or start new ones. The manual uses the Farmer Learning Group approach, which is a structured, group-based learning methodology that that focuses on practical demonstrations, hands-on field exercises, and discussions to hone farmers’ skills.

To help farmers use the manual, we also developed an accompanying guidebook entitled Implementing Guide for Planting, Replanting and Tree Diversification in Cocoa Systems.

These resources are already being extensively used in farming communities in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Liberia. Hundreds of farmers in these countries have benefited from their use and the initial outcomes have been encouraging.

The manual and guide are expected to contribute towards the regeneration of cocoa farms across West Africa, and consequently improve the plight of farmers in the region. They are available online as downloadable PDFs from the STCP Web site.

Publications & graduate research

A researcher inspecting cassava in vitro culture plantlets at the Genetic Resources Unit. Photo by Jeffrey Oliver.
A researcher inspecting cassava in vitro culture plantlets at the Genetic Resources Unit. Photo by Jeffrey Oliver.

Publications

In 2009, we produced 299 publications, which comprised of 181 journal articles, 17 books, 5 in-books, 20 conference proceedings, 12 technical reports, and 64 other publications. A total of 118 of the journal articles appeared in peer-reviewed journals that are listed in Thomson Scientific/ISI. The complete listing and details of these publications can be found in our online bibliography.

Graduate research

Individual training

This year, 99 new trainees (29% female, 71% male) registered for our various programs; 92 came from sub-Saharan countries, while the rest were from countries outside of Africa.

A total of 118 students (46% female, 54% male) had ongoing research training, with 31% conducting studies for their PhD’s, 32% working towards their MSc’s (or equivalent), 13% working towards their BSc’s, and 20% for other academic certificates and diplomas. The rest are staff of national research institutions that came for short-term training or to work alongside our scientists. One hundred and seven students came from 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, while 11 came from 7 countries in Europe, Central America, North America, and Asia.

Group training

Distribution of academic trainees 2009.
Distribution of research trainees, 2009.

We delivered over 195 group training courses in more than 300 locations in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Over 21,701 individuals (27% female, 73% male) participated in these courses. More than 50 of these activities were Training-of-Trainers involving NGOs, government extension, and farmer cooperative partners. These focused on crop management practices including IPM, agronomic management, and macro-propagation techniques.

Our other training activities covered extension, field/lab research skills, pest risk assessments, pest/pathogen diagnostics, collective marketing, agronomic practices, processing and utilization, statistical computing, vegetative propagation, lab safety, agribusiness, managing cooperatives, and participatory variety selection.