Shaded cocoa system a bridge for sustainable cocoa production
Kojo Nunoo1, Jacob Aidoo Mills1, Enoch Brefo Mensah1, Prince Kojo Asamoah2
1Rural Education and Agriculture Development International, Elvis Asare, Ghana
Cocoa naturally requires forest shade because it is traditionally shade-dependent. Most smallholder farmers use a variable system of production termed ‘‘agroforestry’’ whereby forest trees are selectively thinned so that cocoa and other trees can be planted beneath the remaining canopy. These trees offer farmers a range of agronomic, economic, cultural, and ecological benefits which can help to stabilise or improve farm income and household welfare. Full-sun cocoa is replacing shade production in cocoa-growing regions. It is quite obvious that with dwindling forests for new planting, cocoa agroforestry holds the key to sustainable future outputs and productivity in organic cocoa production. In this study, we evaluated the impact shade levels have on the yield of cocoa under the different cocoa agroforestry systems. Research data were collected from 400 cocoa farmers in the Ashanti Region of Ghana by means of multistage sampling technique through household structured interviews and focus group discussions. Farmers indicated that when environmental issues are not considered, maximum yield is attained per hectare for cocoa farms without shade. Although some farmers are switching to full-sun production, many farmers acknowledge the benefits of maintaining shade in cocoa production. For example, benefits that cocoa farmers attribute to shade include maintaining soil moisture, improving soil fertility, and weed suppression. The average yield per hectare of the full sun/ no shade and shaded was 825kg/ha and 560kg/Ha respectively. The yield curve under the no shade/full sun system shows a sharp rise in the yield and followed by a very sharp fall in the yield after age 14. The provision of economic incentives for maintaining shade in cocoa products such as price premiums may increase economic benefits while simultaneously providing incentives to farmers to maintain shade in production. Outreach focusing on the shaded cocoa system may be the most effective way of optimising ecological, economic, and social outcomes to build organic bridges in cocoa production.
Keywords: Agroforestry, cocoa, Ghana, shaded systems
Contact Address: Kojo Nunoo, Rural Education and Agriculture Development International, Elvis Asare, Box up1429 knust, 233 Kumasi, Ghana, e-mail: kojonunoo2020gmail.com