An innovative addition to maize farming: Cashew trees

Six years ago, if you were to walk through the farms surrounding Babato Kuma, a small community outside of Kintampo in the Bono East region of Ghana, you’d mostly see long, nondescript fields.

Now, everywhere you look you will find cashew trees sprouting up between the rows of maize. The trees are the result of a years-long collaboration between the community and Solidaridad’s Dedicated Grants Mechanism for Local Communities, which established a 20-acre forestation project.

The land was donated by the chief, while Solidaridad provided the seedlings and the technical and financial support. But when it came to actually planting and maintaining the trees, the whole community took part.

Addia Ibrahim is a resident of Babato Kuma.

Addia Ibrahim is a resident of Babato Kuma.

The men carried the seedlings to the field and dug the holes, while the women and youth brought water for the seedlings. Together, they’ve enabled the plantation to thrive.

When the tree planting started, women were given a special quota of extra seedlings to support their farms. In other cases, for individual farms outside of the main project, the community provided labour to plant them, for a small fee.

The trees still need another four years until they’re fully grown, but they’re already bearing fruit. Before they were planted, the community was facing an array of climate issues that were getting progressively worse.

Abukari Seidu, who acts as the spokesperson for the community project, remembers how challenging farming was.

“Rainfalls were erratic and the temperatures were rising,” he said. “The land was infertile when they were planted and the crops were not getting the proper yield.”

With the roots and leaves of the trees nourishing the soil, that’s changed. Yields are rising again, as are farmer incomes. On top of that, the trees are providing additional revenue. The project has only generated about 300 Ghana cedis — or $35 CAD — in revenue so far, but as the trees reach their full potential, that number will rise.

The community has already planned where the extra money will go. A third of it will go towards the management of the farm, and another third will go to the chief, whose land the cashew trees are sitting on. But the final third will be put in a community account, to aid community development. 

Some of the women plan to use the income from the cashews to pay for their children’s school fees. Others want to pay for health insurance for their children or for special training for their children to become carpenters and seamstresses.

Babato Kuma is one of the communities being featured in a documentary produced by Adars 107.7FM and Farm Radio International, which will highlight how communities in Ghana are responding to climate change. The hope is that when other communities hear of how Babato Kuma has benefitted from the cashew trees, they will be encouraged to try similar solutions.

Communities like Babato Kuma are what give hope to farmers across Ghana. They’re proving that a simple, cost-effective solution to changing weather patterns is not out of reach. 

To learn more about this story, and other stories of communities using nature to adapt to climate change, listen to Nature Answers: Rural Stories from a Changing Planet, available wherever you get your podcasts.

About the project
The On-Air for Gender-Inclusive Nature-based Solutions project is a 5-year project led by Farm Radio International in partnership with the Government of Canada that will use high-impact radio programs to work with local communities in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia to identify, share and support local Nature-based Solutions and amplify those solutions to a network of 3,500 broadcasters across 38 African countries so they can be duplicated across the continent.

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About the author
Chris Edwards volunteered as a journalism intern for Farm Radio International in Ghana in summer 2023 for our project about Nature-based Solutions to climate change.

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