Youth Create Cocoa Planting Guide for Community
Entry: David Noyes, World Cocoa Foundation
How can you convey a complex cocoa planting matrix to an entire community at minimal cost? During my most recent trip with the ECHOES program, I had the chance to see the innovative approaches to this issue that cocoa farming youth have initiated in their own communities. I was particularly encouraged by the work that out-of-school youth have done in Nkonya, Ghana to build a cocoa-planting guide (below) as an education tool near their cocoa demonstration plot. The World Cocoa Foundation’s rural education program, ECHOES, is improving the quality and relevance of education and expanding opportunities for youth and young adults in cocoa-farming communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
One of the approaches used in the ECHOES program is to establish school demonstration plots. The demonstration plot in Nkonya belongs to the school, and was planted in a specific pattern, with interspersed cocoa trees, plantain trees for shade and food, and nitrogen-fixing leguminous tree crops that enrich the soil and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers (while providing additional shade). The demonstration plots provide practical learning opportunities for the youth who maintain the plots. In addition, these plots provide an example to the entire community on how to correctly plant cocoa. To help achieve this second goal, out-of-school youth beneficiaries in Nkonya helped to construct a plan for the demonstration plot on a large concrete slab so that it would be clearly visible to the entire community. One youth (a graduate of the ECHOES literacy program, now an active member in the livelihoods program) explained to me that the plan indicates the correct spacing of the cocoa trees (3m x 3m, and marked by a “C” on the plan below) and indicates how the plantain trees (“P”) and leguminous trees (“L”) should be planted in the rows between the cocoa. This plan and demonstration plot will serve as a guide for those with already established cocoa plots, as well as for future generations of farmers interested in learning about cocoa farming.
Figure 1 - ECHOES out-of-school youth beneficiary in front of demonstration plot in Nkonya, Ghana with community members, implementing partners, and a visitor from the Ghana Education Service. Prior participants in the program now can use the plan to explain correct cocoa-farming techniques to visitors or their peers.