The Development Institute (DI), a natural resource conservation non-governmental organization, is spearheading the revival of cocoa cultivation in some communities along the Weto range in the Volta Region.
The initiative formed part of the Institute’s drive to popularize the sustainable management of the natural resources along the range.
A total of 18 communities and 25,000 hectares stretching from Bame to Dzolokpuita in the Ho-West district will be covered in the initial stage.
The programme encompasses communities along the Range from Asikuma in the Eastern Region to Holuta all in the Ho-West District of the Volta region.
The initiative under the Community Resource Development Area (CREMA) of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, seeks to involve communities in conserving and sustainable use of natural resources in the off-forest plantations and to reap its benefits, Mr Ken Kinny, Executive Director of DI said.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the CREMA Board, made up of elected members from among participating communities to oversee the implementation of the initiative.
Cocoa, a major and popular cash crop, together with coffee was synonymous with the Central portion of the Volta region up to the Kadjebi district.
Its cultivation in much of the central forested portion of the region however suffered a sharp decline to almost zero following the inundation of farms by the Volta Lake in the 1960s, devastating bushfires of 1983 and the failure of farmers to rehabilitate burnt farms.
Cocoa cultivation in the Volta region is now limited to Hohoe -North, Jasikan and Kadjebi districts much of it smuggled into neighbouring Togo, making the region’s share of cocoa to the national production almost negligible.
The acreage of land put under cocoa cultivation in the Volta region fell from 11.2 percent in 1954 to 4.1 percent in 1970, Jette Bukh wrote in a report, “Village woman in Ghana.”
Mr Kinny said cocoa nurseries would be established to start supplying seedlings to farmers by November and December this year.
An advisory body and 30 lead farmers will be constituted to advise the farmers in best practices under a certification programme.
Mr Kinny said the focus would be on getting young people to take to cocoa farming in the areas under consideration.
He said Di would extend the initiative to Togo, given the similarity of the ecology in communities that shared the range in both countries.
Mr Kinny lamented at the level of poverty among communities along the Weto range due to the non-sustainable exploitation of its immense, diverse and rich natural resources.
Mr Nico Beunders, Technical Consultant for DI said the Weto Range was a treasure trove that needed to be preserved sustainably managed and exploited to the benefit of its communities and Ghana.
He called for political and traditional backing for the CREMA initiative, because it provided the opportunity for lessening the burden on government in managing and conserving the natural resources of the Range.