The Forestry Commission of Ghana has adopted forest plantations as a strategy to ensure landscape restoration, enhance environmental quality and develop a sustainable resource base to satisfy future timber demands. One of the reforestation programmes is the modified taungya system (MTS); a co-management system between the Forestry Commission and smallholder farmers that allows intercropping of timber and food crops. It entitles farmers to 100% of the food produce and a 40% share in the timber revenues in return for their contribution to tree planting, maintenance and protection.
The MTS contributes to contribues to alleviating the scarcity of farming land and improving households’ livelihoods, Creating a legal source of future timber supply and also its contribution to creating climate-smart landscapes. However challenges have also been reported. One of these is the lack of mid-term benefits for farmers after canopy closure, when food crops can no longer be grown. This creates a disincentive for tree protection and maintenance and also threatens food and income security. As a result of this, the Resource Management Support Centre of the Forestry Commission (RMSC), the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) and RUDEYA have formed a consortium partnering with Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA, Ejusu District); Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) to implement the ARF-WOTRO Tree Farm Project which aims to address these challenges with funds and support by the WOTRO Science for Global Development and the Applied Research Fund of the Food & Business Knowledge Platform from the Netherlands. Through a collaborative learning approach involving researchers, practitioners, policymakers and farmers, the project seeks to explore the possibility of improving the sustainability of the MTS, while at the same time addressing the threat to smallholder farmers’ food and income security by introducing three economically viable shade-tolerant non-timber forest products (NTFPs). These include West African black pepper (Piper guineense L.) grains of paradise (Afromomum melegueta) (both used in traditional medicine and as spice), and honey production. This project is designed as a knowledge co-creation involving multiple disciplines and stakeholders. It builds on previous collaborations between policymakers/practitioners (RMSC and RUDEYA) on the one hand, and between scientists (UENR and UvA) on the other, now bringing all the perspectives, experience and expertise together to address problems identified in previous work with farmers involved in the modified taungya system (MTS).
Deliverables include insights into opportunities for improved production, processing and marketing of NTFPs and how continual learning can be institutionalised in farmer groups, communities of practice, and learning platforms. The project will also support research work for six Ghanaian MSc students at UENR and offer fieldwork opportunities for Master students in International Development Studies from UVA