Community service groups help farmers and increase child protection
Over the past five months, cocoa farmers in 15 cocoa growing communities in the Ashanti region of Ghana, have been benefitting from the services of volunteers at affordable prices. Called Community Service Groups (CSG’s), each group was formed by their Community’s Child Protection Committee (CCPC) to serve as a dedicated labour force that can be hired by cocoa farmers on a need basis.
In response to needs assessment carried out by International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), members of the CSG, mostly men between 25 and 45 years of age, have been trained in group dynamism, conflict management and agronomic practices and how to manage group farms. They have been equipped with materials and some farm inputs such as wellington boots, overalls, hand gloves, machetes, pruner blades, ladder, motorised mist blower, knapsack etc.
This CSG model allows many farmers the opportunity to get their farms cleared completely, manage their farming better, and reduce the use of their children on the farm. For example, some of the farmers have had their farms cleared at subsidised rates and others have benefited from labour which would be paid on credit.
Ranging between 15 to 25 members, some service groups have raised as much as GHC 4,000 within the first two months.
Funds raised for the group through payments made have been saved in a bank account created by group. When need arises, group leaders agree with their members to support themselves with soft loans in tough times with such funds.
“We have been well received by the farmers. Our farmers, own large lands but cannot put a foot on every inch of the land. Now, after hiring our group, so dramatically their lands are fully cleared and prepared for business. A basic farmer’s dream – good land, labour, rains, and a happy family – has been fulfilled for us. Personally, the group has also helped me to manage my farm better. We all make payments to the group but for our common benefit.”
– Kwaku Nuamah, a representiative of the Community Service Group in Kwankeabo community
In most cases, the service charge is agreed upon after consultation with leaders who pay a visit to the client’s farm. Similar agreements take place when farmers within the group request for the services of the group.
An increasing number of farmers are beginning to appreciate their customized approach and utilize their services. The potential of the group, Kwaku asserts, would contribute to supporting the economic empowerment of farmers thereby improving their lives. He believes, with this support from the group, farmers would have higher incomes, better access to and control over their farms, and greater sustainability of their land.