Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana: Implementation Plan



Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire together produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa. Cocoa plays a critically important role in the local and national economies, providing jobs, improved livelihoods and social welfare, expanded tax base, family and corporate income, and foreign exchange earnings growth. However, the long-term viability of cocoa farming is at risk in many parts of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire due to climate change[1], , and for many years smallholder cocoa has been the leading agricultural commodity driving deforestation in both countries. This deforestation increases greenhouse gas emissions and has a negative impact on biodiversity, soil fertility, water quality and quantity, affects local rainfall, and threatens farmer livelihoods. In response, the governments of both countries and commodity buyers have made specific commitments to reduce and eliminate deforestation from their supply chains through the creation of initiatives such as the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) and the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP) that will sell carbon credits to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

Declining productivity of cocoa farms represents an additional challenge facing the West African cocoa sector. In Ghana, up to 40 percent of cocoa farms have low productivity and the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has estimated that 700,000 ha of cocoa farms need to be replanted. There are several challenges to large-scale farm rehabilitation. Farmers and communities lack the funding, labor resources, and technical know-how to replant old trees using best practices to rehabilitate old cocoa farms to be higher yielding and more resilient. Many farmers also have insecure land tenure arrangements that prevent or discourage them from replanting old farms and need help to improve tenure security. 


From October 2016 – January 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded a pilot through the Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) program to identify challenges and solutions to improving cocoa sustainability in Ghana. The pilot project was carried out with private sector partners Ecom Agroindustrial Corp. (ECOM) and the Hershey Company (Hershey). The work included extensive background research, consultation, and a field pilot in Nyame Nnae community in Asankrangwa, Wassa Amenfi West (see Figure 1) to demonstrate how to address several challenges including improving land tenure, tree tenure, and financing cocoa rehabilitation to improve cocoa productivity, which would ultimately hope to reduce pressure to expand production into remaining forests.[2]

[1] Predicting the Impacts of Climate Change on the Cocoa-Growing Regions of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (2011), International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

[2] For more detail see Improving Tenure Security to Support Sustainable Cocoa – Final Report & Lessons Learned. A longer summary and link to the final report can be found here: Additional documentation produced by the project is available here:

Further Reading