Leveraging opportunities for collaborations on ‘green’ landscape development in Eastern Ghana

By: Margaret Arwari

Stakeholders during the Resource Day at Kade town in Kwaebibirem Municipality, the Eastern Region of Ghana. Photo credit: CIFOR

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)-World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF)’s Governing Multi-functional Landscapes (GML) Project in Eastern Ghana successfully rolled out multi-stakeholders’ platforms in May 2021: Cocoa Working Group, Oil Palm Working Group, Rubber Working Group and the Mine Reclamation Working Group. Essentially, the working groups discussed their Theories of Change and came up with road maps to desired impacts. For instance, they identified important targets that align with national agricultural development initiatives like tree crop rehabilitation, climate-smart agriculture and Planting for Export and Rural Development. They also identified impacts that resonate with projects and programmes of civil society organizations, such as sustainable intensification, zero deforestation, improved livelihoods and private sector priorities (standardization, sustainable sourcing, price stabilization, etc.). Following this, CIFOR-ICRAF organized and coordinated workshops for the working groups.

As we called it a “Resource Day” for the working groups, CIFOR-ICRAF invited various organizations to grace this day. From Accra, over hills and valleys to the Eastern Region at Kade, Kwaebibirem Municipality, diverse groups streamed in for Resource Day. They included civil society organizations (CSOs), private and public sector actors, and research institutions, such as the Rainforest Alliance, Proforest, World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Solidaridad, Forestry Commission, Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), A Rocha Ghana, Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD, Rubber in Ghana Plantations Limited (RPG), Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) and the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Centre (FOHCREC) of the University of Ghana.

CIFOR-ICRAF will require the working groups for the GML project in Ghana to develop agro-commodity and landscape development strategies for their respective sectors. They will then build business cases for funding their proposed critical interventions on landscape development. Therefore, the working groups were eager to know how their members and other stakeholders can collaborate with the various organizations/institutions in a concerted effort on ‘green’ landscape development. Their members include farmers, farmer cooperatives and associations, agro-commodity companies and artisanal oil palm processors, locally known as ‘Kramers.’  

Initiatives from the public and private sectors and CSOs

The various organizations and institutions presented their programmes and engaged with members of the working groups on relevant issues such as climate-smart agriculture under the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in WCF and IDH, and the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme under the Climate Change Directorate of the Forestry Commission in Ghana. The cocoa and oil palm working groups also discussed voluntary palm oil and cocoa standards and sustainable oil palm and cocoa production with RSPO and TCDA. Since many farmers were aware of CHED programming, CHED talked more about cocoa rehabilitation, climate-smart cocoa and its support services for farmer cooperative development. Solidaridad also presented its current cocoa programmes to the Cocoa Working Group such as the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II) in Ghana.

In a session on private sector engagement, the Rubber Working Group engaged and liaised with RPG on better service delivery, enhanced rubber production, rubber standards, prices and opportunities for rubber farmers. The rubber farmers and their Association for Eastern Region Rubber Out-growers also discussed challenges facing smallholders.

Funding opportunities

The working groups were also keen to know available financing options and what to consider when developingaction areas for interventions or piloting and building business cases for fundraising. Impact investors such as Root Capital and Agricultural Development Bank also presented to, liaised and engaged with the working groups on their programmes that fund agricultural and value chains’ development initiatives and projects.

The various organizations that participated in the Resource Day for the working groups

The future is bright for the working groups

The working groups considered the information from different stakeholders in the workshops as necessary. “As a working group for the GML project, we are now more aware of the opportunities we can leverage for our landscape development interventions,” said one working group member.  Dr Emily Gallagher, a scientist at CIFOR-ICRAF and with the GML Project team, added that “the working groups are eager to continue dialoguing with the organizations and pursuing pathways for incorporating the opportunities for collaborations with the organizations into their development strategies.”

The Resource Day for the working groups led to the establishment of potential collaborations and action plans that could lead to shared goals for the Atewa landscape development (Kwaebibirem Municipality and Atiwa West District).

Henceforth, CIFOR-ICRAF is tasking CHED, OPRI, FOHCREC and the Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate and coordinate the Cocoa Working Group, Oil Palm Working Group, Rubber Working Group and Mine Reclamation Working Group, respectively, starting in November 2021 through to the first quarter of 2022.