ETG-Beyond Beans: The ASASE project
At ETG-Beyond Beans we have recently begun a project in Ghana called Accessible Soils And Sustainable Environments (ASASE – meaning land in the local Ghanaian language Twi). For Ghana’s 800,000 cocoa-farming households, the country’s high risk of deforestation brings with it the threat of lower rainfall and rising temperatures that could damage cocoa trees, reducing yields and household incomes. Together with partners and with funding from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), we are working with 5,000 farmers Ghana’s Ashanti and Eastern regions to tackle deforestation, rehabilitate ageing cocoa farms and restore natural forests.
The project has a landscape approach, moving away from the traditional focus on the direct supply chain and instead intervenes on 3 levels: working together with cocoa farmers, their rural communities and in local forest remnants beyond the cocoa farms themselves. By tackling whole geographic areas rather than focusing solely on cocoa, we can ensure that problems such as deforestation are not simply “pushed” into other commodity supply chains.
Payment for Ecosystem Services
In addition to sensitizations and trainings on agroforestry practices, we are working with local government and traditional authorities to ensure farmers receive land and tree tenure documentation certificates, allowing them to to invest in their farms without fear of losing the fruits of their work. We are also working with farmers to facilitate the conservation of forests and the reforestation of degraded areas through approaches such as Payment for Ecosystem Services, where farmers receive (in-kind) value in return for their efforts to protect or even re-build forests around their cocoa farms.
ETG- Beyond Beans
The Export Trading Group (ETG) and Beyond Beans have been the initiators of the ASASE project. Our leadership team bring over 25 years of experience working in sustainability in the cocoa sector, and we worked to bring together partners including West-Africa's land rights specialist Meridia, civil society organization TropenBos Ghana, and the Ghanaian Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), taking the lead in designing the program. We are now executing this project on the ground through our in-country team in Ghana.
Working on the SDG13 is not only core to our work (one of our four guiding pillars is working towards a Healthy Environment), we also have dedicated team members working on this topic, including several from YEP. Out of the four YEP positions at Beyond Beans (two of which recently became alumni), Roy Winkelhuijzen and Annemarijn Nijmeijer are focused specifically on Cocoa & Forests, with Roy being the project manager of ASASE project described above. As part of cocoa sector consortiums, they are driving forward innovation in agroforestry and reforestation initiatives, and they lead our in-country field teams in bringing farmer trainings and tree seedlings directly to the cocoa farmers we work with.
Meanwhile, Airen Lugt and Adamu Billey, also from YEP, are focused on Monitoring and Evaluation, which plays a vital role as data collection and analysis allows us to monitor that no farmers are located in protected areas and to see how agroforestry and reforestation interventions lead to impact on climate change.