CARE International in Ghana in collaboration with Cargill has launched the second phase of the “PROSPER project” in the Bia West District of the Western North Region to support cocoa farmers in the area.
The project seeks to empower women, improve nutrition, strengthen community governance, increase access to financial services of Cocoa farmers and enhance their financial literacy.
It is targeted at 11,700 cocoa farmers from 156 farming communities in eight Districts in the Western North Region.
Mr. Christopher Adu-Gyamfi, Bia West District Cocoa Health Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board praised CARE International in Ghana for supporting cocoa farmers to build their resilience through frequent engagements using innovative community-driven approaches.
“For over 13 years now, CARE has been engaging cocoa-growing communities and building their knowledge and skills in farming and income generation”, he said.
He said they also reached out to more than 14,000 cocoa farmers through training and education on how to improve on productivity and diversify livelihoods of which more than 40 percent of community-led development projects were integrated into the District medium-term development plans.
Mr. Adu-Gyamfi said, CARE’s Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) concept introduced to cocoa farmers during the first phase of the PROSPER project enabled farmers, particularly women, to access financial services, and subsequently increased their income, improved inclusive governance, empowered women in decision-making and enhanced household nutrition behaviours, among others.
The project, he pointed out, reached more than 1,828 cocoa farmers with financial literacy, nutrition education and entrepreneurship training.
He also mentioned community action plans as some of the innovations of CARE International in Ghana and that, an amount of $150,494 was spent in the implementation of 108 community action plans that brought to light 51 school blocks, health centres, and community water infrastructure in some beneficiary communities.
Mercy Nyamekeh, Senior Manager in-charge of Cocoa and Private Sector Initiative at CARE said that, for 75 years, CARE had led the way to a better life for millions of vulnerable people around the world.
CARE, she said put women and girls at the centre of its interventions and that the world could not overcome poverty until all people had equal rights and opportunities.
“Our programmes- focus on women, girls and the youth, to improve livelihoods, education and governance. For example, last year 64 per cent of all initiatives involved working directly with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)”, she said.
CARE, she said, reached 806 thousand people to support their food and nutrition security and resilience to climate; benefiting a further 2.7 million others; through nine (9) initiatives including; CARE’s work in the cocoa sector.
As a result, CARE reached 35 thousand women to promote their access to and control of economic resources, indirectly benefiting a further 160 thousand people.
She said, these proven interventions were what Cargill was supporting in these 60 communities in Bia West. “We acknowledge the pledge of support by the district assembly, traditional authorities, farmer groups, GHS, MOFA, Department of social Welfare and all other government and local agencies.
With such commitment, there will be increased access to financial services of farmers and financial literacy; nutrition behaviours will be improved; community governance will be strengthened; and our women will be empowered”, she said.
Mr Yahaya Zakaria, Sustainability Coordinator at Cargill explained that, the PROSPER II Project formed part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility that seeks to improve on the livelihoods of individual cocoa farmers and enhance community governance that allows for inclusive participation in development processes by all.
He acknowledged CARE for a satisfactory implementation of the phase one of the project and therefore urged stakeholders in the new communities to support and participate in all the project’s activities to improve their lots.
Launching the project, the District Chief Executive for Bia West, Mr. John Koah commended CARE International in Ghana not only for being gender sensitive and leader in global humanitarian service, but also joining hands with Cargill and for that matter the private sector to promote gender equality, strengthen governance and improve farmers’ income, livelihoods and well-being in the Western North Region.
The DCE urged the beneficiary communities to take advantage of CARE’s innovative interventions to improve on their knowledge and skills to enable them diversify their livelihoods and up the programme seriously to improve upon their yields in order to be self-reliant.
Madam Lydia Opoku, a beneficiary of the first phase of the project thanked CARE and Cargill for contributing immensely to improved women’s economic and livelihoods in Wiawso Municipality. “Essakrom got a 3-unit classroom block under the phase that gave our children access to education”, she said.