Soil and Water Management Practices in Cocoa Production in Ghana and Ecuador

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2021-02

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De Montfort University

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Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed

Abstract

This study contributes to the literature on cocoa production and sustainability by documenting soil and water management practices (SWMPs), based on local knowledge, in Ghana and Ecuador. The study examines farmers’ perceptions of climate change and its impacts on cocoa production, soil and water-related knowledge, and the impact of individual and contextual factors on their behaviour in managing soil and water resources. The study draws on an extended version of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), which incorporates intersectionality theory and construal level theory, to explore why intentions do not automatically translate into actual behaviour (i.e. adoption of SWMPs). The study adopts a critical realist grounded theory approach and uses a semi-structured questionnaire to collect empirical data and a range of participatory research methods, including focus group discussions, transect walks, participatory resource and land-use mapping, social network and resource flow mapping (Net-Map), and participatory photography (Photovoice). Thematic analysis is used to identify patterns of meaning in the data. Farmers recognise climate change constitutes a threat to the long-term sustainability of cocoa production. They have a wealth of soil and water-related knowledge, and are aware management of soil and water resources can enhance or undermine the sustainability of cocoa production. Their choice of SWMPs adopted not only reflects their perceptions of climate change, and soil and water-related knowledge, but also a dynamic interplay between individual and contextual factors. This study concludes farmers do not behave as a homogenous group and their agroecological knowledge does not automatically translate into practice. It posits farmers’ knowledge systems and practices should be acknowledged in mainstream discourse, policy-making, and interventions. Moreover, it argues this currently ‘missing’ element – local knowledge – could make an invaluable contribution towards addressing the ‘super wicked’ problem of climate change and facilitating a transition towards sustainability benefitting both cocoa farmers and the global cocoa economy.

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