“I like the Atiwa forest, its green environment and various trees and animal species, and the unpolluted air that one can feel,” said Isaac Ampomah, a master’s student from Ghana. He is currently researching the effects of the government policy changes on fertilizer provision to small-scale cocoa farmers in the Atiwa West District and Kwaebibirem Municipality, near the Atiwa Forest Range in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
“I also like it that people here know the importance of the forest, and they have not destroyed it much,” he added. Ampomah works with the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Center (FOHCREC) on the European Union funded project Governing Multifunctional Landscapes (GML), which is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Through his research for the project, Ampomah has found that small-scale cocoa farmers have seen an increase in their production when they benefit from the government fertilizer subsidy programme and apply fertilizer accordingly. He has also observed that the number of youth involved in farming has increased as a result of better productivity. Moreover, farmers report reducing the encroachment into the forest, since they can get high yields of cocoa from their pieces of land. “we should see more farmers doing the same and become a trend,” Ampomah said.
“This project has made me aware of value addition opportunities that can be explored to help cocoa small-scale farmers increase their incomes, and protect and conserve forests,” Ampomah said.
The student is interested in learning more on how value can be added to the traditional way of farming and how to support farmers gain entrepreneurial skills. “I believe in educating, sharing and imparting knowledge to people along the agricultural value chains, that is why I am constantly exploring innovative ways of improving Ghana’s small-scale agriculture,” he said.