Business News of Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Lifeline for cocoa industry as Touton S.A partners gov´t

The government is working out a partnership with Touton S.A, a French company to implement a programme to improve the dwindling yields of cocoa farms and reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+).

The French company is a major international trading group in commodities including cocoa, coffee, and assorted ingredients for the food and beverage industry.

The initiative is also being supported by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which a partnership of stakeholders that assist developing countries.

Known as Climate Smart Cocoa, the objective of the initiative is to enable Ghana to maximise its cocoa production potential and increase the economic opportunities for forest fringe communities without compromising the integrity of existing forests.

Currently, Ghana’s yield per acre is very low, one of the lowest in the world. Ghana’s yield is about 400kg per hectare while that of la Cote d’Ivoire is about 1,000kg per hectare.

Ghana’s partnership with Touton and FCPF is also aimed at developing an ambitious emissions reduction programme that is focused on reducing carbon emissions from unsustainable cocoa farming practices which pose a threat to Ghana’s forest landscapes.

Through this initiative, Ghana intends to reduce deforestation in the high forest zone (HFZ) by, at least, 45 per cent, foster strategic public-private partnership to safeguard the forest cover in the HFZ and boost yields of cocoa production systems.

Benefits of initiative to Ghana

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Kwame Adjei, the Assistant Manager, Climate Change Unit, Forestry Commission, said the initiative sought to enhance cocoa yield in areas under cultivation, instead of expanding or increasing acreage.

“Currently, Ghana’s yield per acre is very low, one of the lowest in the world. It is about 400kg per hectare. Even Cote d’Ivoire is doing about 1,000kg per hectare. What are they doing better than us and how can we enhance yields,” he asked.

Mr Adjei said the initiative also sought to improve livelihoods of people, especially cocoa farmers, create employment, enhance farmers’ incomes and also help deal with climate change.

Threats to cocoa landscape

Commenting on the partnership with Ghana, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Touton S. A., Mr Patrick de Boussac, said cocoa landscapes were currently threatened, among others, by extreme climate variability, declining productivity, degraded soils, poor livelihoods, food insecurity, and poor water quantity and quality.

“Touton S.A, Ghana Cocoa Board, Forestry Commission and the other partners are conscious that cocoa production and sustainable forest management are closely linked, and strongly influence each other. The challenge is now to turn the vicious cycle of environmental degradation and low productivity into a virtuous one of sound environmental management and highly productive systems.

“In this regard, Touton S.A and Ghana Cocoa Board signed a REDD+ Ghana Sustainable Cocoa and Forest Agreement in October 2014 to implement the Ghana Climate Smart Cocoa Production Approach,” Mr Boussac said.

He said that Touton S.A's Climate Smart Cocoa Approach was consistent with Ghana's emerging Cocoa-Forest Emission Reduction Programme, which was being jointly developed by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Forestry Commission, Ghana Cocoa Board, the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), the Ministry of Agriculture (MoFA) and other relevant stakeholders.