Communities have exhibited commendable support for the establishment of the Boin CREMA in the last one year. Lessons learnt so far, tells that the CREMA initiative in the area could be well sustained only when communities obtain economic benefits from managing natural resources in their off-reserve areas. This is due to the recurrent challenge where the period between the main cocoa season and the light crop season, is characterised by little to no income generating activities by communities in the CREMA. Whereas cocoa farming is the main economic activity of communities in the CREMA. Hence, the economic hardship the locals face during the ‘dry season’ serves as an incentive for illegal exploitation of forest, water and wildlife resources. Against this background, the Enhancing Natural Forests and Agro-forest Landscapes (ENFAL) Project seeks to support local communities within the Boin CREMA with viable additional livelihood ventures to provide them some income when cocoa is out of season.
To ensure that the livelihood activities to be promoted by the ENFALP is acceptable to the potential beneficiaries, it was essential to consult the entire CREMA and solicit their views and suggestions. Actively engaging communities to select their preferred livelihoods, encourages support and buy-in which is critical to the success of any community based intervention.
In this regard, a two-day consultative workshop was organised for the Boin CREMA in Enchi. This report provides information on the deliberations, suggestions and key outcomes of the workshop.
The main objective of the workshop was to engage communities in the Boin CREMA to identify their preferred livelihood options as part of the Additional Livelihood Support Scheme’s implementation processes in the Western Region.
To ensure that the outcome of the workshop is a good reflection of the interest and suggestions of communities in the Boin CREMA, the following method was utilised;
- Community meetings: the workshop was preceded by community meetings in the four CRMCs and was organised by the CRMC leadership with support from Adehye Farmers Association.
- Plenary discussions were held to provide participants with some information on the objective of the Additional Livelihood Support Scheme to guide their contributions at the workshop. This method was also used in the ranking of the first five most preferred livelihood activities for the entire CREMA.
- Group work was also used to allow the four CRMCs list the livelihood activities suggested by their constituent communities.
The workshop was highly interactive and the participants made significant contributions as detailed below.
The two-day workshop took place on 19th and 20th November, 2018 at the Forest Services Division Conference Room in Enchi-Western Region. A total of 73 persons made up of 52 males and 21 females from all four Community Resource Management Committees (CRMCs) in the Boin CREMA participated in the workshop (Annex A). The participants included two Chiefs from Angunzu and Sewum respectively. Mr. Richmond Donkor of Adehye Farmers Association, Henrietta Asiedu and Abigail Frimpong of Conservation Alliance facilitated the workshop.
The CRMC leadership were tasked to hold meetings with the communities to receive suggestions on their preferred livelihood options prior to the workshop. The leadership therefore, reported on the communities they engaged and Annex B provides the list of communities contacted by each CRMC. In all CRMCs the chiefs and elders of the communities were informed of the intent of the ENFALP to support CREMA communities with some additional livelihoods to obtain their consent and support. The meeting with the chiefs and elders were followed by community wide meetings where the chiefs and people gave their suggestions.
This section made it clear that the CREMA communities have been well engaged and the responses and suggestions generated at the workshop is reflective of the views of the CREMA communities.
Cocoa farming is the main economic activity of most community members in the CREMA. However, during the dry season where there is little cocoa related activities most farmers stay idle with no economic activity while a small section engage in food crop and vegetable cultivation as well as petty trading. These activities are mostly on subsistence levels and hence, poverty and financial hardship becomes an incentive for over exploitation of natural resources in the CREMA. It is therefore, timely to have additional livelihoods to support the locals during the dry season and further, sustain efforts towards effective natural resource management in the area.
The participants shared experiences on past livelihood interventions in the area which included support from CARE International where some farmers received training to set up enterprises in piggery, grass-cutter rearing, fish farming among others. These interventions were however, faced with some challenges including lack of logistical supplies, weak monitoring and supervision as well as less commitment from beneficiaries. It is therefore, important that the livelihood scheme learn from these earlier happenings and develop the appropriate strategies for the success of the scheme.
The participants were grouped into the four CRMCs and tasked to list the suggested livelihood interventions from their respective communities. The groups then made presentations of their preferred livelihood options and Table 1.0 shows the selected livelihood activities of each CRMC.
In a plenary discussion, the CREMA leaders were engaged to select the first five most preferred livelihood ventures and the following were selected;
- Bee keeping
- Snail farming
- Fish farming
- Tree nursery establishment
The reasons for each of the selected option were provided and they included;
Bee keeping was selected as the first of the five most preferred livelihood options on the premise that honey is a priced product (with ready market) which can provide substantial income for their homes and also support the CREMA. Also, it require little capital and less labour as well. Beneficiaries can adequately expand and sustain the bee keeping venture even beyond the project. Bees are also good pollinators and they can help increase the productivity of farms. Finally, honey has medicinal properties that can be useful for homes.
Piggery was selected as the second most preferred livelihood venture since there is a huge local market for pork and that can generate some monies within a short time. Also, the food that would be needed to feed the pigs are readily available in their localities and can be provided with less cost. There is also a resident veterinary service provider who can help address any health concerns with regards to the pigs. Pork is also considered a delicacy of most persons in the CREMA and thus suitable for the area.
Snail farming was considered the third most preferred livelihood option from the Boin CREMA. This was due to reasons that snail rearing requires less financial and labour resources thus can be continued beyond the project. Snails are highly priced and this makes the venture lucrative.
Fish farming was named the fourth most preferred livelihood option although it is a financial and labour intensive venture. The communities were of the view that the potential high returns on investment makes it a useful additional livelihood.
Tree nursery was considered the fifth most preferred livelihood option. This was due to the potential economic and ecological benefit of producing tree seedlings to be planted in the CREMA. There is also, a local market for the tree seedlings as the Forest Services Division sources tree seedlings from locals.
Following the ranking session, the participants suggested some issues that could be considered in the selection of beneficiaries of the scheme and these include;
- Beneficiaries should be core CREMA members of good standing (registered, paid monthly dues, attends meetings as described in the CREMA constitution).
- Responsible persons who are resident in the CREMA.
- Persons willing to commit quality time to a given livelihood venture.
- Persons with integrity and good behaviours.
- Persons capable of keeping accurate records.
Finally, the implementers of the Scheme were advised to consider granting both individuals and groups with the appropriate venture. It will also be key to have the implementing team pay regular and frequent monitoring visits to deepen beneficiaries’ commitment to the intervention.
These interactions concluded the workshop on a fruitful note.
- A single implementation strategy may not work for all the various livelihoods suggested by the communities. For instance bee keeping could be given to committed individuals whose work could be monitored and supervised for effectiveness since it is not a labour intensive venture. Tree nursery establishment on the other hand, has to be given to groups of committed individuals since it requires much labour. It will be useful to develop realistic strategies for each additional livelihood to ensure success.
- The success of the livelihood support scheme depends largely on the effectiveness and frequency of monitoring and supervision.
- The provision of adequate start-up support is a key contributor to the sustainability of the livelihood scheme.
Communities within the Boin CREMA are enthusiastic about the support additional livelihoods scheme could provide them during the dry season when there is no cocoa. It is therefore, important that the livelihood scheme is rolled out within the shortest possible time to sustain the interest in natural resource management generated so far.
- It is recommended that a local monitoring team which comprise of CREMA leaders be instituted to monitor the activities and progress of beneficiaries of the scheme.
- The scheme must ensure that each product generated from the livelihood ventures has a well-developed market. Lack of local markets for livelihood products has the potential to halt and cause the intervention to fail.
- Beneficiaries of the scheme must be well informed of their financial contributions from funds generated by the livelihoods they are to make to the CREMA.
- It is recommended that the Ministry extend the service agreement of Adehye Farmers Association to enable them sensitize communities on the role of the locals in the success of the additional livelihood scheme.
- Facilitate the development and implementation of the Additional Livelihood Support Scheme.
- Provide monitoring and technical assistance to the beneficiaries of the scheme.