Using citizen science to improve agro-ecological and climatic accuracy of cacao planting material recommendations in Ghana and its regional-level access and delivery to farmers

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.


Main applicant: Dr J. van Etten (Bioversity International)


  • Dr. H. D. Bisseleua (World Cocoa Foundation (WCF))
  • Dr. A. Laven (Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)
  • Dr. F. Padi (Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG)
  • F. Appiah Amponsah (Kookoo Pa Farmers Association (Kookoo Pa))


Significant parts of West Africa, which provides 70% of the global cocoa production, are facing unprecedented challenges with anomalous climates. Extreme temperatures and water stress are putting millions of smallholder cocoa producers and the cocoa sector and chocolate industry at risk. Current seed systems in Ghana are not serving cocoa producers needs adequately because recommendations for cocoa planting material do not take into account regional agro-ecological and climatic differences. There have been successful efforts to provide solutions to these problems using a scalable citizen science approach for on-farm testing of annual crops for climate adaptation: the triadic comparisons of technologies (tricot) approach. This project will be the first one to apply the tricot approach to perennial crops. Through a strategic public-private-civil society partnership, we will adapt the citizen science “tricot” approach to cacao variety testing, working with women and men farmers to test cacao hybrids and clones for climate adaptation in a gradient of agro-ecological zones in Ghana. We will develop and validate processes and guidelines for the production and distribution of selected climatically adapted, stress-tolerant cacao 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. We will design appropriate dissemination and scaling mechanisms by supporting inclusive business development to ensure the delivery of diverse and adapted genetic materials of cacao addressing the specific demand of farmers.


Project number

W 08.240.109

Main applicant

Dr. ir. J. van Etten

Affiliated with

Bioversity International

Team members

N.R. Demers, Dr. ir. J. van Etten, Dr. A.C. Laven PhD


01/04/2019 to 31/01/2022