The Board of the Green Climate Fund on Friday approved several new projects, including one for Côte d'Ivoire that marks the first time the Food and Agriculture Organization helped an African country obtain a grant from the international agency.
The funds will help Côte d'Ivoire's Promire project which promotes zero-deforestation cocoa production to reduce emission in the country.
The cocoa project is a pilot project which supported a local cooperative of organic cocoa producers in La Mé to amplify their access to fair-trade markets as well as reduce the loss of forest cover.
In a statement on the FAO website, along with the $11.8 million approval for Côte d'Ivoire, other two FAO-led projects in Armenia and Colombia, for a total amount of $58.5 million, including $10.5 million in cofinancing, received approval from the Green Climate Fund.
FAO Climate and Natural Resources deputy director-general Maria Helena Semedo said, "These approvals show that FAO is a strong partner for members looking to meet their climate goals with inclusive rural growth strategies."
"Africa has a lot of need, and a lot of potential, in this area, so we commend the Green Climate Fund for approving that project and look forward to helping implement it," the statement added.
The statement adds that the enlarged project will implement low-carbon emission agroforestry practices on 3,650 hectares.
The project is set to benefit some 600,000 smallholder farmers in Agnéby-Tiassa, La Mé and Sud-Comoé.
Côte d'Ivoire has one of the world's fastest rates of forest loss and almost no pristine forest remains outside its national parks.
The FAO statement further added that agriculture contributes to almost two-thirds of the deforestation.
A third of the deforestation is linked to cocoa production since a lot of land has to be cleared to pave way for "full-sun" cocoa. Experts say this strategy is favoured by unorganised smallholders who lack secure land tenure.
They prefer it to "shaded" cocoa which is associated with lower short-term yield but is better for biodiversity, water management and environment sustainability.
The FAO statement adds that the project will also focus on diversified use of farmland beyond cash crops to include food crops such as plantain and cassava.
Farmers will also be called upon to renew coffee plantations as well as plant trees with other uses.
"Partnerships will be sought with investors who are increasing their commitment to sustainability, not least as the larger cocoa business sector risks sharp output reductions from the world's largest cocoa producing country if climate change is not addressed."