EU TRADE4SD researchers from the University of Kent collaborating with University of Ghana to help increasing the sustainability of cocoa production and trade

Sophia Davidova and Alexandra Kirtley, University of Kent, UK

TRADE4SD participants from the University of Kent, UK, visited Ghana between 14th and 30th March 2023 to work together with the partners from the University of Ghana, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) in Accra. The aim was to prepare for the implementation of the lab-in-the field experiments.  The latter involve conducting a pair of experiments with cocoa producers and traders to reveal their behaviour to various policies designed to boost sustainability. In these experiments, researchers from University of Kent and ISSER will ask agents to make decisions on how to allocate their endowment to invest towards the provision of a sustainable public good. As the subjects in the experiments are actual farmers and traders they will be looking at the scenarios presented to them in the context of their real world choices. The objective of the visit was to pilot the scenarios and to understand how a group of cocoa farmers and traders can react to them.

Ghana partner’s team – Professor Festus Ebo Turkson, Dr Nii Ralph Armah, Dr Nii Emmanuel Abbey and a research assistant PhD student Mawuenyega Makafui Butu organised a very useful meeting in a community of cocoa farmers in the Eastern region.  The meeting took place in their small community church and many farmers volunteered to participate. They were very active in responding to the pilot questionnaire and enjoyed themselves as well, as it could be seen from the pictures taken during the meeting. This meeting was also very insightful as it allowed the researchers to see how farmers interpreted the questions were asked in the survey.

The meeting with cocoa traders took place in the Bunso Cocoa College. The existence of this college is indicative of the importance of education of specialists in cocoa in Ghana.  Participants revealed their issues in enforcing farmers to pay for inputs supplied by traders to support the quantity and quality of farmers’ production.

Kent researchers also visited the oldest cocoa farm in the country with the first tree planted in 1879. This farm is now mostly a tourist attraction but it exemplifies the long history of cocoa production in Ghana. Most of cocoa beans are exported and value is added outside Ghana. However, there are efforts to develop the overall value chain and to capture some of the final consumer market, e.g. with Ghana produced chocolate.

Researchers from the University of Kent also met the Director of ISSER Professor Peter Quartey who was very positive towards collaborative work on TRADE4SD and is opened to a wider cooperation. It will facilitate publications and dissemination of results after the delivery of the project tasks and the lifetime of the project.

TRADE4SD is an EU funded project and it was important to understand the opinion of the EU Delegation to Ghana on agri-food trade and sustainability issues in the cocoa value chain. The meeting of the Kent team with representatives of the Delegation focused the attention on the decreasing productivity of cocoa trees due to their age and led the researchers to think on how to test in the experiments farmers’ attitude to investment in replanting of new trees, thus achieving economic suatainability.

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