BOPP smallholders in Ghana agree plan for sustainable farming

Members of an oil palm farmers association in Ghana have gone through the process of identifying High Conservation Values in their location and developing a management and monitoring plan.

Earlier this year, SHARP reported that Rainforest Alliance, in collaboration with Solidaridad, was beginning field testing of the simplified HCV approach for smallholders in Ghana. The field test is taking place with the Adum Banso Oil Palm Plantation Farmers Association, a group of 60 farmers in the Mpohor district of western Ghana who supply the BOPP palm oil mill. Many of the members also grow cocoa.

After a group manager was selected to steer farmers through the simplified HCV process, a series of meetings and workshops were held in June and July. Supported by Rainforest Alliance and Solidaridad, the group manager explained to members the concepts of HCV and certification and created a profile of the supply base. Participants confirmed the presence of ecosystem services and focal species in the landscape as well as threats to them.

"It was easy for smallholders to identify basic ecosystem services and resources around them," report Rainforest Alliance. "They know their environment very well and are able to tell what is there and what is not there."

A community cemetery and other examples of HCV 6 (see here for explanation) were identified. Association smallholders and other members of the community agreed on precautionary practices to protect them. Participants also agreed on sustainable farming measures to maintain other ecosystem services in the area that are not strictly HCV, such as no clearing of steep slopes. Rainforest Alliance report that identifying threats was not easy but once that had been done, agreeing on some simple and viable mitigation measures was more straightforward. Some of the precautionary practices may need external resources to implement, however.

Among the challenges experienced so far during the field test have been recruiting and building the capacity of the group manager, and using the detailed English-language guidance. It was commented that some of the documentation is too text-heavy, needing to be translated into the local language, and that the low literacy rate among farmers makes it difficult for them to fill in check boxes as part of the self-verification part of the approach.

Participating smallholders have begun to implement the monitoring and action plan and will feed back information to the group manager for analysis.

Rainforest Alliance is the SHARP Regional Focal Point for West and Central Africa. For details of Solidaridad's work in Ghana, click here.