National Implementation Plan on Cocoa and Forest Initiative launched

By Godwill
Arthur-Mensah, GNA

Accra, July 4, GNA –
Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on
Wednesday launched the National Implementation Plan (NIP) on the Cocoa and
Forest Initiative intended to halt deforestation and degradation within the
cocoa supply chain.

The immediate focus
for implementing the Cocoa and Forest Initiative is to halt further deforestation
and forest degradation from 2018 to 2020, while securing the remaining forest
resources in the immediate short-term.

Addressing key
stakeholders at the launch in Accra, Mr Owusu-Bio said the Plan aimed to
facilitate planning and implementation of the commitments featured in the Joint
Framework for Action signed by the Government of Ghana and representatives of
chocolate and cocoa industry players during the Climate Change Conference
(COP23) in Bonn, Germany, in November last year.

He, therefore,
pledged government’s commitment to enhance the environmental governance regime
in the cocoa sector and implement actions that would enable cocoa producers to
adopt cocoa agroforestry systems and practices that were climate compliant.

He said the launch
of the Plan demonstrated collective commitment and efforts of the players in
the cocoa supply chain to halt deforestation and forest degradation.

The Plan would serve
as the basis for companies in the forest management sector and cocoa value
chain to develop their individual action plans.

The NIP is expected
to gather support and experiences from the existing international and national
programmes and policies, including the Ghana Cocoa Forest Redd+ Programme, the
National Climate Smart Agriculture and Food Security Action Plan, the Ghana
Forest Investment Programme, the Ghana Forest Plantation Development Strategy
and the Strategic Development Goals Commitments, Convention on Biological
Diversity.

The Deputy Minister
said cocoa and forest were two important sectors of the country’s economy with
cocoa being the second largest foreign exchange earner while timber was the
fifth.

In that regard, Mr
Owusu-Bio said any initiative to promote cocoa and forest resources were
relevant to the country’s development agenda.

He observed that
over the years, there had been massive decline of the nation’s forest resources
as a result of the continuous expansion of agriculture activities largely due
to cocoa farms in cocoa growing areas.

He expressed
excitement that the nation was a beneficiary of the intervention, which was
initiated by the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit, the World
Cocoa Foundation and Multi-national chocolate producing firms to work in
partnership towards reducing the rate of deforestation emanating from cocoa
production.

In view of that, he
said, the nation had participated in a number of discussions with other
stakeholders in the commodity supply chain, culminating in the development of
the Joint Framework of Action.

Having signed the
Framework, Mr Owusu-Bio gave the assurance that the government was committed to
developing a comprehensive Implementation Plan, to guide the roll-out of a set
of activities in achieving the purpose of the initiative.

‘‘We will do our
best to circulate this Plan to all relevant stakeholders and undertake an
outreach programme to sensitise cocoa farmers across the cocoa and forest
landscape. 

‘‘The Ministry of
Lands and Natural Resources will try to raise funds through the central
government to support the implementation of the plan. In addition, we wish to
appeal to the private sector and our development partners to invest adequate
resources in this plan to improve the forest ecology and livelihoods of the
farmers,’’ the Deputy Minister assured.

Mr Kwadwo
Owusu-Afriyie, the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, on his
part, described the Cocoa and Forest Initiative as one of the major
interventions to reverse the decline of the country’s forest frontiers.

He noted that it had
enhanced collaboration between the Commission and the Ghana Cocoa Board
(COCOBOD) and would resolve the tension that often existed between Forest
managers, cocoa farmers and COCOBOD on the other hand.

He expressed
optimism that the Plan would complement the existing programmes that sought to
address the deforestation of the forest resources in order to preserve the
forest for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Mr Joseph Boahen
Aidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, in an address, re-affirmed
COCOBOD’s commitment to the initiative, and said it would help in tackling
man-made, forest and environmental degradation.

He said the Board
would work tirelessly to move small-holder cocoa farmers from the quagmire of
low cocoa productivity to a state of high productivity and enumerative
production systems.

He believed that the
collaborative efforts of the partners in the cocoa supply chain would help
build a resilient and robust cocoa sector.

Mr Aidoo said the
Initiative could be measured with three key pillars, including increasing
profitability and economic opportunities for cocoa farmers and other cocoa
value chain actors, productivity enhancement that does not compromise integrity
of existing forest as well as ensuring the restoration of endangered
landscapes.

The Technical
Director of Forestry at the Ministry, Mr Musa Abu-Juam, gave an overview of the
Cocoa and Forest Action Plan.

He said the Plan had
three key objectives, namely; develop actions and activities to meet the Joint
Framework of Action, signed in Bonn, in November last year, develop a precise
standard outputs of activities and make provision on measurement and monitoring
of the Framework and declare content relation framework.

GNA

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