Solidaridad Network : The Emerging Young Faces of Cocoa Farming in Ghana
According to a story published by ICI civil society member Solidaridad;
For most youth in rural Ghana, moving to the city in search of work is the norm. They don’t consider agriculture as a viable alternative source of livelihood and part of the reason is lack of access to land, knowledge, capital and financial services. To motivate young people to go into agriculture, for the past two and a half years, Solidaridad and its partners have implemented the MASO Programme to create employment opportunities for rural youth in the cocoa sector.
Progress of the MASO Programme to date
The MASO Programme has made steady progress over the last two and half years in creating employment opportunities for young people in cocoa growing communities.
To make cocoa cultivation profitable high yielding hybrid seedlings are promoted to start new farms. Close to 1,000 hectares of new cocoa farms have been established and about 450 hectares of old farms are under rehabilitation by MASO youth.
The MASO’s Agro Academy has trained over 7,000 people in sustainable cocoa farming practices. Over 300 people have benefited from training in entrepreneurship through the MASO Business Academy. Additionally, social, financial, leadership and business development skills are incorporated into the training.
MASO has provided a digitalized farming solution to the participants. This enables them to access information and provides them with the opportunity to monitor the sustainability performance of their farming systems.
The next generation farmer
Saviour Adika is a 26-year-old cocoa farmer who lives in Mankata, a small cocoa farming community in the Assin South District of Ghana and has benefitted from this programme. After completing high school eight years ago, Saviour entered into farming to support his family. In 2016, however, Saviour decided to acquire professional skills in farming. He joined the MASO Programme to receive training in cocoa agronomy.
Today, Saviour is a happy cocoa farmer. He manages a total of 11 acres of cocoa farms, including three acres he established in 2017. This year, he added three more, and he manages another five on behalf of his family. As a result of the training he received, Saviour decided to further invest in his farms in 2017. He took a loan from a Cocoa Purchasing Officer in his community and coupled it with his own savings in order to buy agro-inputs and hire labour for the farm. Yields from his farms are showing steady improvements. He harvested eight bags of cocoa beans from the five-acre farm in 2017. This is a significant increase from the five bags he harvested in 2016 on that same farm. The increase is much due to the application of good agricultural practices.
Hopeful of better yields in subsequent years, Saviour is even more determined to make additional investments and apply good agronomic practices on his farm.
Reflecting on his own experience, Saviour believes the future of cocoa farming rests with the younger generation. He thinks it could provide employment for the many unemployed young people.
‘There are many young people around who do not have any jobs. There are many opportunities for young people to get involved in cocoa farming. One can make good money through cocoa farming.’
Supporting the next generation of young farmers will not only enhance agricultural productivity and boost rural economies but also ensure food security.
The MASO Programme is implemented by six consortium partners led by Solidaridad. The other members are Aflatoun, Ashesi University, Fidelity Bank, Opportunity International Savings and Loans and the Ghana Cocoa Board.
It equips the youth with the requisite skills and knowledge. This allows them to function effectively as cocoa farmers and as successful business people in the cocoa sector. The programme, as a result, creates jobs for young people in cocoa producing communities.
MASO is part of the Youth Forward Initiative (YFI) which is a partnership between The MasterCard Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, Global Communities, Solidaridad, NCBA-CLUSA and GOAL.