CocoaTarget – Ghana
Duration: April 1, 2019 – March 31, 2022
Full title: CocoaTarget: Using citizen science to improve climatic and agro-ecological targeting of varietal recommendations and accelerating planting material access for cocoa farmers in Ghana
Objective: This project aims to develop a farmer-led business model for the propagation and distribution of cocoa planting material that is more efficient and more responsive to climate change, and capable of providing rapid feedback to breeders in Ghana. The proposal attempts to achieve this based on citizen science, using the tricot approach that has been tested in cereals and legumes and is for the first time being tested in a perennial tree crop.
Abstract: West Africa produces 70% of global cocoa but is facing unprecedented challenges with anomalous climates. Extreme temperatures and water stress put pressure on the cocoa sector, including millions of smallholder cocoa producers and the chocolate industry. Current seed systems in Ghana are not serving cocoa producers’ needs adequately because recommendations for cocoa planting material do not specifically target regional climatic and agro-ecological differences and do not respond to shifts in these conditions due to climate change. There have been successful efforts to provide solutions to these problems using a scalable citizen science approach for on-farm testing of crop varieties for climate adaptation: the triadic comparisons of technologies (tricot) approach.
This project will be the first one to apply the tricot approach to a perennial crop, cocoa. Through a strategic public-private-civil society partnership, the research team will adapt the citizen science “tricot” approach to cocoa variety testing, working particularly with women farmers to test cocoa hybrids and clones for climate adaptation in a gradient of agro-ecological zones in Ghana. The team will develop and validate processes and guidelines for the production and distribution of selected climatically adapted, stress-tolerant cocoa hybrids and clones in a network of central and satellite nurseries and budwood gardens managed by women and youth, to ensure constant varietal renewal depending on the emerging needs of farmers and the findings on climate adaptation from on-farm testing. The project will design appropriate dissemination and scaling mechanisms by supporting inclusive business development to ensure the delivery of diverse and adapted genetic materials of cocoa addressing the specific demand of farmers.
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This project received funds in the Call on “Seed Systems Development (SSD): Enabling and Scaling Genetic Improvement and Propagation Materials” which was released by NWO-WOTRO within the framework of the Netherlands-CGIAR research partnership. The nine awarded project consortia consist of Dutch research institutes, CGIAR Research Programs or platforms, and (Dutch or local) partners from the public and private sector.