Media personnel on Thursday were trained on Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI), a programme being implemented by leading cocoa-producing countries and companies towards safeguarding forests.
The CFI is a programme, which has seen the governments of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire with 32 leading cocoa and chocolate companies joining forces together to end deforestation and restore forest areas.
The workshop organised by Ecocare Ghana, noted that the programme, which commenced in 2017 focuses on forest protection and restoration, sustainable cocoa production and farmers' livelihoods, and community engagement and social inclusion within the leading cocoa producing countries.
Mr Obed Owusu-Addai, the Managing Campaigner at Ecocare Ghana in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the two Governments and the leading cocoa and chocolate companies, signed the statement of intent in London under the auspices of His Royal Majesty Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.
He said cocoa production was leading to the loss of huge forests reserves and identified as the major cause of deforestation for the two leading cocoa producing countries and hence the initiative introduced to mitigate the challenge.
He said the stakeholders of the programme developed actions that will reduce the rate at which forest reserves were been destroyed in the name of cocoa production.
Mr Owusu-Addai said several intervention had been adopted by the parties involved in the programme including the provision of seedlings to farmers and also ensuring that farmers got benefits from trees that they nurture on their farms.
He said the CFI also sought to minimise the overdependence on large farms as farmers always sought to expand the size of farms by introducing seedlings and practices that would increase their yields without necessarily expanding the size of farm.
Madam Glowen Kyei-Mensah, the Programme Manager of the Sustainable Trade Initiative, said in her presentation that statistics gathered from Redd+ strategy showed that as at 2016, 66 per cent of forest loss had been due to food crop conversion, amongst which 27 per cent was due to cocoa expansion.
She said the programme, which started with Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire in 2017 expanded to Colombia in 2018, where cocoa was identified as a priority for Colombian agricultural growth, both for domestic consumption and international export.
She added that the programme had become a the starting point for the Roadmap to deforestation-Free Cocoa in Cameroon, a process launched in January, this year.
Madam Kyei-Mensah said a framework for action was initially signed by 31 companies, Government of Cote d'Ivoire, through the Ministry of Water and Forests and the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources.
She said the framework had eight key commitments which included the prohibition and prevention of activities in the cocoa sector that cause or contribute to any further deforestation or forest degradation in national parks and reserves, forest reserves, and conserved forests in the rural domain, such as sacred forests;
She said it also focused on the respect for the rights of cocoa farmers, including identifying and mitigating social risks, and sequencing the implementation of actions to minimize potential adverse social and economic impacts.
Mr Vincent Awotwe-Pratt, the Country Programmes Manager for World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the CFI, said cocoa and chocolate companies had agreed to institute action plans since the introduction of the CFI, which demonstrates their commitment to the programme.
He said so far 32 actions plans from equivalent cocoa and chocolate companies had been prepared and that two more would soon be added.