When it comes to intensive farming systems, many rural farmers face a trade-off between agricultural production and biodiversity . In order to protect the biodiversity, farmers must sacrifice agricultural production. Hence, the challenge is to continuously expand food production while bearing no negative effects on biodiversity. These negative effects widely include deforestation, disrupting ecosystem integrity and species viability. In light of these issues, better farming technologies and natural resource management practices along with improved agricultural policies are required. This brings up the question of how to protect wild species and conserve habitat while increasing agricultural production and farmer’s incomes? Thus, this research paper reviews the work on cocoa production in the West African sub region – specifically Ghana – as a biodiversity conservation mechanism and presents recommendations to research gaps related to agroforestry.
According to Richard Asare, “The West African sub region is host to the world’s main cocoa producing countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria” . Through progressive Conversion of forests into cocoa fields, these countries are undergoing major deforestation . Ghana in particular, underwent a substantial amount of biodiversity loss due to deforestation and land degradation, incurring an economic loss of approximately $54 billion . Further, Ghanaian forestlands are categorized into reserve and off reserve where an estimated 50 – 70% of the total reserve land was illegally encroached due to numerous factors such as agriculture, mining and timber extraction . In Ghana, 50% of total cocoa farm area is under mild shade while an average of 10% is managed under no shade . According to Schroth et al., cocoa agroforestry, where cocoa cultivation that maintains higher proportions of shade trees in a diverse structure, is progressively viewed as a sustainable land-use practice that aids in biodiversity conservation . Agroforests are “complex, multi-storey mixtures of planted trees, shrubs and food crops…” They are a sustainable and profitable form of agriculture to farmers and the overall economy. Cocoa agroforests in particular, can create forest-like habitats, harboring tropical biodiversity in degrading lands . It is claimed that to date, biological diversity in cocoa production has been poorly studied, especially in the context of ecoagriculture, which is referred to as “land-use systems managed for both agricultural production and wild biodiversity conservation” . Ecoagriculture can be considered the future of landscape management as it helps to preserve species and increase the productivity of the land while enabling the rural poor.
The cocoa sector in Ghana provides livelihoods for over 700,000 farmers in the country . Since 1990s, world cocoa prices have steadily increased (with the exception of 1998 – 2000 and 2003 – 2006) . Hence, the steady increase in...