STCP in the Cocoa Livelihoods Program

Cocoa seedlings ready for distribution to growers in a community nursery established by IITA/STCP. Photo by Richard Asare, IITA.
Cocoa seedlings ready for distribution to growers in a community nursery established by IITA/STCP. Photo by Richard Asare, IITA.

This year, our Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) was tapped to be part of a multi-sector consortium to implement the US$40 million, 5-year Cocoa Livelihoods Program (CLP). The CLP, managed by the World Cocoa Foundation, aims to improve the livelihoods of approximately 200,000 cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Liberia by addressing marketing and production inefficiencies, income diversification, and farming technology/innovations.

The program was first announced in February 2009. Activities began following intensive site selection that we led in consultation with public and private sector partners in the project countries. We would also be training cocoa farmers in production practices and quality management through innovative approaches such as Farmer Field School, Farmer-to-Farmer training, and Video Viewing Clubs.

We would develop and validates a new training approach that would help rehabilitate existing cocoa farms through the proper establishment of productive systems of high yielding, fertilizer-responsive varieties. We will also develop distribution systems for improved planting material in the five countries by facilitating the establishment of commercial and on-farm nurseries, and clonal budwood gardens for rehabilitation through grafting. These nurseries will serve as sources of high-yielding planting material for cocoa and other crops and trees.

To ensure that the nurseries are supplied with the best available cocoa, timber, plantain, and cassava planting materials, we would develop a community-level brokerage service that would link communities and commercial nurseries to various suppliers. We will also explore the Farmer Organization and the Business Service Center approaches to ensure the availability and accessibility of input supply for farmers.

We are currently conducting a market opportunity study in the five countries to analyze diversification opportunities in local, regional, and international markets using a common economic and financial analytical framework. The study covers cocoa, cassava, and plantain and their associated inputs, with other key country-specific commodities also to be considered. It would provide vital market information to reduce the risk of an income shock on the economies of these countries and its spillover impact on cocoa-growing communities.

We are also responsible for managing the Performance Monitoring Coordination Unit (PMCU) of the CLP. The PMCU coordinates the monitoring activities of the five technical partners to ensure consistency and accuracy of data collected. The PMCU will maintain a centralized information database, and provide data to partners as needed to promote informed decision-making within the program.

The CLP is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 14 chocolate industry companies. Aside from IITA/STCP, the other four implementing partners include Agribusiness Services International – an ACDI/VOCA affiliate, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Société de coopération pour le développement international (SOCODEVI), and TechnoServe. The program has been launched in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, and is expected to be launched in Cameroon and Liberia soon.

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.