CocoaLink Connects Farmers with Information Source
Entry: Charlie Feezel, World Cocoa Foundation
The week of March 7th I travelled to Accra, Ghana to participate in the launch of CocoaLink, a public- private partnership among the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), The Hershey Company and the World Cocoa Foundation. CocoaLink is an innovative agricultural extension service that uses mobile phones to carry messages to farmers in remote places. We gathered at the rooftop meeting facilities of COCOBOD the morning of March 10th to announce this program to the people of Ghana. We had many distinguished speakers including the Honorable E. T. Mensah, the Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, and James Nevels, Chairman of The Hershey Company, who shared their support for the program. My presentation focused on explaining how the system works. My favorite speaker though, was Frank Osei Tutu from Sui, a community in Sefwi Wiawso, part of Ghana’s Western Region. He is a cocoa farmer who has been associated with our WCF ECHOES Alliance since its inception in 2007.
Frank Osei Tutu at the Launch of CocoaLink
He told us that through World Cocoa Foundation programs he has learned improved farming practices that have helped him increase his annual cocoa bean yield from 12 to 35 bags over the last three years, nearly tripling his yield. Mr. Osei Tutu said he was very happy with the program and even became one of our literacy training facilitators. He went on to say “When I heard about this new CocoaLink program, I went out and got this phone.” which he proudly held up for the audience to see.
The CocoaLink program staff is currently enrolling farmers in our pilot area in the Western Region. They will have the farmer registration system ready by the end of April when any Ghanaian farmer will be able to just sign up by sending the text "COCO" to 1980.