Recognition for Ghana’s top cocoa farmers
The Ghana Cocoa Board and one of ICI’s Founding Members, the Hershey Company, recognised three of Ghana’s best cocoa farmers as part of Hershey’s Learn to Grow program, which aims to improve farmer incomes.
Mr Abraham Adusei, Ghana’s National Best Cocoa Farmer of the Year, Theophilus Tamakloe, the country’s “aspiring young cocoa farmer” and Akua Boatemah, Ghana’s “aspiring young female farmer”, were selected by the Ghana Cocoa Board for their sustainable farming practices, the high level of productivity they achieved, their good leadership qualities and the impact their work has had on other farmers in the community. Mr Adusei was chosen after a three-month process, involving the selection of a representative from each of the 35 cocoa farming districts in Ghana, from whom seven regional farmers were nominated, of whom one was awarded the country’s cocoa farmer of the year title. The 71-year-old Ghanaian is a retired school headmaster, whose father was a cocoa farmer.
The move to recognise the country’s promising young farmers was designed to encourage the next generation of farmers, a concern in Ghana and neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire where the average age of cocoa farmers is reported to be 57. According to ICI, cocoa farming needs to be made a more appealing option for young farmers in order to meet global demand for cocoa In the absence of a better standard of living and increased household income, farmers will struggle to send their children to school. This will in turn impede the education of the required new generation of business-minded cocoa growers who have the skills and incentives to boost production significantly..
At the end of August the farmers visited Hershey’s modern manufacturing facility, as well as the Milton Hershey School, where they met with students as well as local farmers. According to Andy McCormack, Hershey’s Senior Director for Cocoa Sustainability and ICI’s Board Member, “the visit was a really good learning experience for both sides as they saw the commercial side of the business and we heard about life and cocoa-growing from a successful farmer.”
Hershey-supported cocoa programs in Ghana include CocoaLink, which delivers free farming advice and training through mobile phone text messages to 45,000 farmers and communities. The Hershey Learn to Grow program also provides farmer and community training in good agricultural practices so that farmers can produce certified cocoa. Hershey has pledged to purchase 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020.