Care International, an NGO in collaboration with Mars Incorporated on Wednesday launched a five-year project aimed at enhancing the socio-economic livelihoods of 27,000 women in 112 cocoa growing communities in the Bono and Ahafo Regions.
The overall objectives of the “Women for Change”, (W4C) project, according to Mr Marshall JB Anala, the Project Manager of Care International is to expand village savings and loan initiatives of women in the beneficiary communities.
This would strengthen financial literacy, household savings, and income-generating activities, and greatly impact on the socio-economic livelihoods of women cocoa farmers and make life better for them.
Under the project, expected to end by September 2025, beneficiaries would be linked to financial services, Village Savings and Loans (VSLAs), and other cash grant programmes to help alleviate their plight in the midst of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Speaking at a ceremony in Sunyani, Mr Anala underlined the importance of bridging gender parity to enable women in rural communities to contribute significantly towards accelerated national development.
He expressed the optimism that with support from stakeholders including traditional authorities, District and Municipal Assemblies as well as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the project would achieve desirable results.
Mrs Faustina Elikplim Aberor, the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Extension Officer, Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the COCOBOD indicated Ghana’s sector, the largest foreign exchange earner was composed of about 888,000 small-scale farmers with 30 per cent being women.
This, Mrs Aberor explained would greatly reduce high levels of poverty in several cocoa-growing areas, helped rectify gender anomalies in the cocoa sector, and enhance efforts towards eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the sector.
She lauded the implementation of the project saying it would provide a level playing field in the sector to enable women to increase control of their lives by becoming independent and autonomous.
Established in 1945, and started operation in Ghana in 1994, Mrs Mercy Nyamikey, Senior Manager, Cocoa and Private Sector Initiative, Care International, said her NGO reached 1,046,913 people directly and over 3.1 million people indirectly to support their food and nutrition security and resilience to climate change in 2020.
She added 53 per cent of the direct reach were women, adding her NGO further reached 174,775 women and girls to promote their access to and control of economic resources.
Daasebre Okogyeaman Duodu Ampem II, the Paramount Chief of Nsawkaw in the Tain District of the Bono Region, who presided noted women played a crucial role in advancing the nation’s cocoa sector hence the need to support women cocoa farmers.