Ghana Cocoa Growers Trained for Secure Future

By Ciara O'Sullivan, International Media Manager, VSO

Ghana Cocoa Growers Trained for Secure Future

The third report in VSO’s Producing Progress series looks at VSO’s role in Mondelēz’s Cocoa Life Programme. The series hopes to help us and others continue to improve livelihoods and strengthen the private sector in developing countries.

The Cocoa Life initiative aims to support the cocoa-growing communities in Ghana that supply the global chocolate company. In doing so Mondelēz hopes to secure the future of its cocoa supply. 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire predominantly. Small scale family farmers grow the majority of this, an example of how 80% of the world’s cocoa is grown by these small family enterprises.

Cocoa production in these parts is plagued by poor knowledge of the efficient techniques needed to minimise waste. Progress in cocoa-producing communities is also undermined by human rights violations like child labour. An important part of the project has been a working partnership between VSO volunteers and the Department of Social Welfare. This partnership has developed a training programme for local head teachers to advocate for education over work on cocoa plots. After two years, there has been a positive trend on enrolment rates at regional kindergartens and schools.

As one of three implementing partners (the others are Care and World Vision), VSO supports the training delivered to farmers and communities by coordinating agricultural extension agents. As a technical partner, VSO also led the roll out of a national volunteering scheme, which has encouraged younger citizens to get involved with the programme. Read more about the agents here.

Partnership is at the centre of Cocoa Life, the Ghanaian Cocoa Marketing Board, the Ministry for Food and Agriculture, Mondelēz and NGOs such as VSO work together to support target-communities. Also integral to Cocoa Life’s approach is community participation. VSO facilitates the development of community action plans that determine a community’s priorities for development – these communities take ownership for their development and active citizenship is encouraged.

Prince, for example, like most people in his generation saw no future in cocoa farming and travelled from his home in rural Mbaem to find employment in Accra. He decided to give farming a second chance after five years’ struggling to find work in the capital. With support from the Cocoa Life project, Prince has learnt more productive farming techniques and can farm all year round. His income has doubled and Prince now acts as a “Cocoa Ambassador” helping to advocate cocoa farming as a sustainable income-source to other young people.

The volunteer model has delivered important results with Cocoa Life. From skilled international volunteers supporting government institutions to these young Ghanaian Cocoa Ambassadors, the value of the volunteer is irrefutable.

To read the full report on VSO’s programme in Ghana, please click here.

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