Fairtrade Africa rolls out project (alliances for Sankofa) to mitigate deforestation and impact on climate



Fairtrade Africa has partnered with a multi-stakeholder alliance of organisations to roll-out a project called “Alliances for Sankofa”. 

The project seeks to reduce deforestation and carbon foot prints in some cocoa growing areas, through an approach that  also  contributes to improving farmers’ livelihoods –recognizing  that  to  be  truly  sustainable,  environmental action  must  go  hand  in  hand with  social  and economic  development.

According to reports, environmental  degradation  and  climate change in the last couple of decades have reached  alarming  levels  and  global  action such as  “Alliances for Sankofo” is therefore  urgently  needed  to  minimize  the  impact on populations, most especially vulnerable communities in the global south.

According to   the UN   Intergovernmental   Panel   on Climate  Change  2019  report  on  Climate and Land(Chapter six), responses such as improved  crop  land  management, diversification, agroforestry  and  forest  management  have  some  potential  of mitigating the impact of climate change. Climate  action  and  sustainable  agricultural  practices  are  needed,  now  more  than  ever.


Sankofa is a Ghanaian Akan  word  which translates as “going back to our roots to get what we lost along the way”.

The Alliances for Sankofa project is funded by Coop, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Swiss platform for sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO)and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

The project is implemented by International Trade Centre’s(ITC)Alliance for Action Programme, Kuapa Kooko Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union Limited (KKFU), Fairtrade Africa, Chocolats Halba, Max Havalaar Foundation Switzerland, World  Wild  Life  Foundation  (WWF)  Switzerland,  ECOTOP  Suisse  GmbH,  South  Pole,  Nature  & Development Foundation (NDF), and Yam Development Council.

 Alliances  for Sankofa  project  draws  on some traditional  forms  of  farming  and  practices  that  help  maintain biodiversity, enhance food security and protect natural resources: like intercropping, for example, which is an age old farming practice that was gradually abandoned over the years in favour of more modern but less sustainable techniques.

The  project  layers  these  revived  practices  with  a  new  climate-smart  approach  which  promotes  the protection of biodiversity through planting a variety of tree and food crops to improve soil health and inset Co2 emissions.

Carbon sequestration through these actions means farmers will earn and trade carbon credits from the trees in  the  future. From  a  farmer  livelihood  aspect,  crop diversification also  enables  the farmers  to have  year-round additional crops for household consumption as well as additional income outside the cocoa season. Crops such as yam, plantain, mango and avocado are sold by farmers on local, regional and international markets with sustainable buyer linkages promoted through the Alliances for Action approach.

The project spans from 2018 to 2023 and is being implemented with KKFU, a 100,000 member Fairtrade-certified producer organisation  (PO).  The  project  aims  to  establish  dynamic  agro-forestry  and  climate  smart  cropping systems plots covering over 400 hectares with a high diversity of crops and timber trees, directly impacting 2,900 farmers directly and 13,400 household members.

Farmers participating  in  this project  combine  various  crops  including  food  crops,  tree  crops,  timber  trees, leguminous crops and other shrubs to create a conducive environment for the soil to enhance yield and biodiversity whiles avoiding deforestation. Plots of Dynamic agroforestry are done organically without any agrochemical.

 Through the pilot project proceeding Alliances for Sankofa, farmers have been able to increase their income by almost 26% compared to conventional practices with the added benefit of environmental conditions continuously improving the productivity of their plots. The same piece of land is expected to yield more cocoa than would have ever been the case in the past.

Emelia Debrah is a farmer in Alavanyo in the Brong   Ahafo   region   of   Ghana.   She   was originally   selling kenkey but   managed   to convince her  husband  to  give  her  a  piece  of land  where  she  started  growing  cocoa  and yam.  She  is  now  a  Lead  Farmer  under  the Alliances  for Sankofa project.

 Emelia  has benefitted  a  lot  from  this  project. She  says: “From the 2018 season, I was able to harvest maize. I recorded the highest harvested maize out of the fifteen other farmers on the project. I  have  used  this  maize  and  some  maize bought from other farmers for my kenkey business. I sold yam, mucuna, canavalia, fresh okro and okro powder, pepper,  plantain  which  were  all grown  on  the  same  piece  of  land.  This increased  my  income  to  about  eighty percent”.

“Through  this,  I  have  been  able  to  support my  husband  in  the  upkeep  of  the  family.  The  cocoa  alone  was  not fetching enough money for the family, but this system of alternative livelihoods has helped a lot. I have been able to  register  my  children  and  grandchildren  on  the  health  insurance  scheme.  I have  also  been  able  to  purchase adequate learning materials for my children: new school uniforms, their daily money for snacks at school and even buy them decent clothes,” Emelia added.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the World Earth Day celebrations, Fairtrade continues to support climate adaptation and mitigation efforts within the agricultural sector to protect farmers. Fairtrade’s mission of empowering farmers to earn a decent income and improve their livelihoods also means supporting them to overcome some of the challenges posed by the effects of climate change. Together, all partners on the Alliances for Sankofa project, this alliance aims to make a difference in the lives of cocoa farmers through sustainable cocoa production now and for future generations in alignment with the SDGs.

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