Visiting WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program Farmers in Ghana
Entry: Holly Houston, World Cocoa Foundation
Several of us have just returned from a very exciting and productive week in Ghana for the 20th WCF Partnership Meeting, our first one held in West Africa! We had more than 300 participants during the conference presenting and discussing cocoa sustainability issues facing the sector, highlighting the progress to date, and emphasizing the call to action for the future to tackle the challenges facing farmer households and the sustainable supply chain. We graciously thank our partners at the Ghana Cocoa Board for their dedicated support and hospitality during the successful week.
For many of our participants, this marked their first time in Ghana and field visits were offered at the beginning of the week to a WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program (CLP) community in the Eastern Region, introducing the farmers to the WCF industry members. The community of Oforikrom graciously welcomed our group of 40 WCF members to visit their farms and see how the WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program is improving their lives. For the majority of the households in Oforikrom, agriculture is the primary source of revenue with cocoa serving as the main cash income. There are around 200 cocoa farmers in this community of 500 people and the WCF CLP has been providing farmers training in good agriculture production practices, managing the farm and other sources of income as a business through the farmer business schools, and proper measurement of and safely applied inputs. The farmers were eager to share the lessons learned thus far from the trainings to our visitors. One farmer said he had previously thought his farm was 5 acres in size when in fact it is 4 acres after learning to properly measure the size following the farmer business school. He said he has been overhiring labor and overpurchasing inputs for his farm. Another farmer spoke of managing the timing of cash in and cash out of his farm income throughout the year, and that it permitted him to purchase his child’s school supplies. A woman farmer reiterated the value of the training provided via videos in the community that she could refer to numerous times for better practices on her farm, including proper pruning to prevent overgrowth and mistletoe infestation.
The take-aways highlighted by these farmers speak to the impactful value of the trainings and services provided through the WCF programs. Neighboring communities are seeing the positive changes of the farms and have petitioned our on-the-ground partners for training and support, seeing the tangible benefit of applied good practices through more bags of healthy cocoa beans. We are highly encouraged by this momentum and thank our industry, government, and NGO partners for their ongoing support to further strengthen cocoa communities.