Over 500 cocoa farmers in Ghana have been supported to obtain land rights documentation for their farms. This forms part of the Cocoa Household Income Diversification Project undertaken by Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Ltd. – a member of the Barry Callebaut Group, with funding from Cocoa Horizons, Beyond Chocolate, IDH, and Aldi South.
At a durbar to hand over the documents to the over 500 cocoa farmers in Sefwi Wiawso, the Country Sustainability Manager for Barry Callebaut/Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Ltd., Fred Frimpong, expressed optimism that the land registration documents will empower the farmers to make the right investment decisions to enhance farm productivity and improve their livelihoods.
“This ultimately is the vision of the Cocoa Horizons Programme being implemented by Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Limited for over 120,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana. Nyonkopa will continue facilitating the land registration process for farmers beyond this initial pilot programme, and we hope we can count on the support of all partners in this regard,” he said.
In the cocoa supply chain, land ownership is the first and most important step to independence and prosperity. Clear access to land contributes to increasing productivity and enhancing farmer livelihoods. But before they can leverage the economic potential of their land, farmer communities first need clearly defined boundaries and tenure security.
A research by Climate Focus (June 2020) states that: “Farmers in Ghana who own land documents see a 21.9 percent productivity plus a 15.5 percent higher income” as compared to those who do not. The decision, therefore, by the project partners is to ensure an increased productivity and enhanced livelihoods for farmers who hitherto were unable to secure land rights documentation for the farms they operate on.
With the support of the Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Council, a total of 501 cocoa farmers – including 120 women – received land rights documentation, giving them a major boost to legalise their ownership and enable long-term investments in the farms, thereby mitigating the risk of having the land claimed by others after investing over a period. They were selected from the Sefwi-Bodi, Sefwi-Asawinso, and Adabokrom cocoa districts of the Western North Region.
Meridia, which offers field data solutions for smallholder farmers, was the implementing partner for the project. The Managing Director of Meridia, Joseph Okyere, believes “the acquisition of the land ownership document will, at least, protect the beneficiary cocoa farmers for the next 50 years to invest in the land.”
A key project partner is IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) – who through programmes like the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, Beyond Chocolate, the Farm and Cooperative Investment Programme and Cocoa Origin – helps align organisations and stakeholders on key sustainability measures.
In an interview, IDH’s Country Manager, Charles Brefo-Nimo, expressed his joy for the achievement of 100 percent of the deliverable of provision of land rights documents which provides the opportunity for the implementing partners to “upscale and possibly replicate the project in other cocoa landscapes across the country.”
A beneficiary farmer, Martha Tiwaa, from the Yawmatwa community in the Adabokrom District stated: “I am excited now that I have documented the ownership of my farmland. This has come at the right time, and it will help me make proper investments to increase my yields. I will definitely spread the word for this.”
The Chief of Sefwi Ahwia, Nana Kofi Nkuah II, who sat in as Chairman for Katakyie Kwasi Bumangama II (Paramount Chief of Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Council), advised the farmers to adhere to the agreed terms and conditions stipulated in their tenure arrangement. He also encouraged the beneficiary farmers to spread the word on the need for farmers to document the rights in their lands for others to take advantage of the scheme which guarantees financial security.
A representative from COCOBOD, Isaac Adu (Deputy Regional Manager, Cocoa Health & Extension Division (CHED), for his part advised the beneficiary farmers to avail their aged and diseased farms to be rehabilitated in order to increase their yields, while giving them value for money.