The Sankofa Project trains small scale farmers in Asunafo, Ghana to restore their land, increase yields and diversify their income streams, while increasing the potential of their farms to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Sankofa is a local Ghanaian Akan word which translates as "going back to our roots to get what we lost along the way".
Small holder farmers produce 90% of the world's cocoa. In Ghana, cocoa farmers face many challenges such as aging trees, pests, diseases, poor soil quality and changing weather patterns, making it more and more difficult to sustain their livelihoods. In the search for better soil farmers delve deeper into the forest, cutting down trees to clear space for more crops. Ghana has one of the highest global rates of deforestation and agriculture is considered a large element of this, with cocoa production one of the biggest drivers.
The success of this unique project is thanks to the collaboration between key stakeholders both within and outside the cocoa industry. This spans from a farmers cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo, to local partners such as WWF, Fairtrade Africa and the Yam Development Council, to experts such as South Pole, Ecotop and Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) offering technical support, to the end buyer, Chocolats Halba, and its parent company of COOP. The Sankofa is supported by the Coop Sustainability Fund and Chocolats Halba, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Max Havelaar Foundation Switzerland. To address some of the challenges above, the Sankofa project is training farmers to implement a dynamic agroforestry system. The system works primarily to improve the soil using a variety of techniques: mulching, planting a wide variety of trees, including ones which are pruned each year and used for biomass. Farmers are trained and provided with the necessary materials they need to implement dynamic agroforestry on their farms. Farmers can visit demonstration plots to see the results up close. An important element of the project is the generation of carbon finance, which is reinvested to fund work on the ground.
The Sankofa project promotes more diverse cocoa production systems to improve farmers' livelihoods. The project helps to enrich the soil, diversify crops, contributes to food security and halt and reverse deforestation in the area. A key element in the success of the project is building a sustainable supply chain, from the farmer to the shop floor!