Pokua’s story: How pepper farming led to new opportunities and increased child protection
In 2017, a group of women from Pakyi, a cocoa-growing community in Ghana, were supported by the International Cocoa Initiative’s Community Development Programme to start pepper farms to raise additional income and support the protection of their children. Each member of the group received pepper seeds, agrochemicals, a pumping machine, spraying machine and the services of an Extension Officer to guide them. Among these women was Maame Pokua. ICI followed up with her to see the progress that has been made in her life since her first harvest in 2017.
“ICI supported us with seeds and other resources for pepper production to help us generate additional income to support our families,” Pokua explained. “Even though the support came later in the season than we expected, we still decided to cultivate the farm so we could get some benefit from it. Our efforts was rewarded with a good harvest.”
Harvesting their produce after the major season was a big help for the group. They made more money than they would have. The price for pepper at that time was over five times higher than what they could have sold it for earlier in the year. This was because pepper was scarce.
“We were able to sell a kilogram of pepper for Ghs 50 to Ghs60 as a result of the scarcity. This helped us to make more money than we had projected.”
After three years, Pokua has gone on to increase the size of her pepper farm from one and a half acres to two and half acres. She has also started tomato farming. This is because she now has the resources to hire the needed help to support herself and her husband on the farm. She still cultivates the pepper that was supplied to her group by the Extension Officer three years ago because she now knows how to preserve seeds for future cultivation.
“I already knew about preserving seeds of the crops one liked but I was not practicing this,” she continued. “With the help of the Agricultural Extension Officer, I was able to build on that knowledge and it is helping me maintain my farm. It has been over three years since I first planted this type of pepper. I am actually harvesting more of this pepper as I speak with you, and this is 2020.”
A further highlight of Pokua’s story was what she decided to do with the money she made from the sale of her first produce. Pokua decided to start a business. She took part of the money she made and invested it to start up a clothing business. Now, Pokua is about to open a shop where she sell shoes, slippers and clothes for adults and children as well as materials.
“After my first harvest, I used Ghs1000 of the money I made from the sale to buy shoes, slippers, and clothes. I started selling them in the community,” Pokua recounts. “Now, three years down the line, I have built a shop that I am looking forward to opening by Christmas. My capital has doubled and I also have some money saved as a result of this trade.”
When asked whether these activities have impacted her life, Pokua was categorical: “Yes, my life has definitely improved. Now, my husband and I can hire the services of as many labourers as we need to help us work on the farm. Also, we now have money saved which did not use to be the case before 2017.”
Great as the change in Pokua’s life is now, it has also enriched the lives of her children. She is now able to support her children and her grandchildren to live better lives.
“When two of our older children were going to rent a home in Kumasi, we were able to support them with part of the money,” Pokua said. “One of my grandchildren now lives with me because I have the resources to cater for him. My life has seen a lot of improvement and I am very happy I took advantage of the IGA programme.”
Just like Pokua, many women and men benefitted from Income Generating Activities between 2017 and 2018 as part of ICI’s Community Development Programme. Those who received assistance were identified as having children who were engaging in, or at risk of, child labour because the family did not have the resources to provide for them. Their families are now better protected from child labour and hazardous work because of the extra income they are making.