Sustaining high quality cocoa production by West-African smallholder farmers
Flemish promoter: Koen Dewettinck (Ghent University)
Local promoter: Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa (University of Ghana)
Start: 2013 - End: 2018
The project proposal has evolved from several individual contacts. Prof. P. Boeckx (Ghent University) on one hand is involved in a VLIR 'Own Initiative' project on cassava production in southern Côte d'Ivoire since 2009. During a visit to UGent Cacaolab in November 2011, the local partner in this project (Dr. J.-B. Ettien, University of Cocody, Ivory Coast) suggested that it would be interesting to understand the parameters affecting the quality of cocoa bean production. The cross border region of Ghana and Ivory Coast is responsible for ca. 60% of the world's cocoa production, but is challenged by the ongoing degradation of cocoa beans and aging orchards. On the other hand Prof. K. Dewettinck (Ghent University) has strong contacts with Prof. E. Afoakwa (University of Ghana). They had pre-discussed the needs for such inter-regional projects to enhance the quality of cocoa beans as well as improving the livelihoods of cocoa producers. Consequently it was proposed to work out an interdisciplinary project proposal embedded in an inter-regional target zone including 5 regions within the Ghanaian-Ivorian cocoa belt, thereby complementing and enforcing expertise and capacity from both West African universities. Through the establishment of a strong interregional relationship, new dynamics and incentives could give rise to sustainable improvement in the quality of cocoa beans produced by many smallholder farmers and to an enhanced capacity building at both universities as well as other associated research institutes and governmental organizations working in partnership with the two Universities.