Olam International Limited and Rainforest Alliance have teamed up to produce the world’s first “climate-friendly cocoa” in Ghana as part of their ongoing collaboration.

This $1-million project has been launched in the Juabeso / Bia district, an area that borders a national park and a forest reserve. Cocoa completely dominates the landscape in this region and illegal encroachment into forest areas still happens there, Olam says.

The program will start with training and logistical support for 2,000 farmers in 13 communities and will increase throughout the project.

The focus will be on improving and increasing production through sustainable farming practices by teaching farmers how the carbon stocks of cocoa, shade trees and soil can be improved by developing specific farming practices.

The hope is that it will enable communities to adapt to the changing climate while at the same time mitigate the potential adverse changes.

Simple tools to estimate on-farm biomass, conduct tree inventories, calculate carbon stocks and estimate and monitor GHG emissions also will be developed for farmers. Farmers then will be trained to assess the risk climate change poses to their livelihoods and to design and implement adaptation plans for their farms.

Tensie Whelan, Rainforest Alliance president, hopes the collaboration will help stop the deforestation of the area, and protect standing forests. Whelan adds that 100 hectacres of native species are also slated to be planted as part of the project.

“The private sector has a key role to play in working with farmers to improve their farming practices, helping to generate better livelihoods, as well as protecting natural habitats,” says Gerard Manley, managing director of cocoa for Olam International Limited. “We will continue to work with Rainforest Alliance to ensure the long-term viability of the cocoa sector and prosperity for the local communities.”

For more information about Olam, visit www.olamonline.com; for more information about the Rainforest Alliance, visit www.rainforest-alliance.org.