How CARE International in Ghana, Amplio Ghana, and COCOBOD strengthened Cocoa Life extension delivery through inclusive digital technology
In 2021, CARE International in Ghana used the Amplio Talking Book to share local language audio messages about good agronomic practices with cocoa farmers in the Western Region. The information and communication technology (ICT) intervention supported a Cocoa Life project for farmers’ groups in Wassa East District, where CARE Ghana is a key implementing partner.
The Amplio Talking Book is a handheld audio device designed for users with low-literacy skills. It delivers hours of content in any language. Users can play messages on demand and record their feedback. A built-in speaker allows families and groups to listen and learn together. The device runs on AA, D, or rechargeable batteries.
For the Cocoa Life project, Amplio Ghana, a nonprofit organization that designs and implements ICT for development projects, partnered with CARE Ghana and the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the Ghana Cocoa Board to create the audio content, conduct technology training, and deploy 114 Talking Book devices in the field from October to December 2021.
Talking Book audio lessons were based on CHED training materials. Topics included site selection and preparation, cocoa nursery and planting, weeding, pests, and diseases control, post-harvest management, and storage practices, plus child labor and climate change messages.
The content was produced in two languages, Akan and Ewe.
Emmanuel Gyarteng, project manager for CARE Ghana’s project, said the Amplio Talking Book was selected to ensure consistent and accurate dissemination of technical information to cocoa farmers to increase their knowledge and skills in improved agronomic, social, and environmental practices, and to promote the adoption of new practices and behaviors.
“The ability to share extension messages in locally spoken languages helps to enhance teaching and learning,” Gyarteng said.
“Talking Books can be used with groups, which helped to improve the farmers’ extension ratio in the district. Farmers can listen when it’s convenient. The device also helped to build the capacities of community animators in the absence of the community extension agent.”
The project used a train-the-trainer approach. Amplio Ghana trained 104 community animators on how to operate the device. Under CARE supervision, the animators then conducted field-level training with their farmers’ groups.
The farmers listened to Talking Books during their group meetings. With the built-in speaker, one device works for a group of about 20 people. Some communities received more Talking Books because they had both Akan- and Ewe-speaking farmers.
Gyarteng said the project directly benefited 53 cocoa farmer groups, reaching over 4,500 farmers and their families across 16 communities.
“We saw a 27.1% increase (male 30.6%, female 22%) in the number of farmers directly participating in Cocoa Life GAP training, an increase from 1,292 to 1,642 farmers. Other farmers in our operational zones also benefited. Most of the messages were aired through local Community Information Centers for the general consumption of all community members. More than 3,000 farmers indirectly benefited,” he explained.
Overall, farmers reported that they increased their yield by 10-20% due to the timely harvesting of cocoa pods, as pods were not allowed to over ripen.
Because Talking Books collect usage data and user feedback, Amplio’s partners can monitor message engagement and gain a deeper insight into community challenges and successes.
Message about Integrated Cocoa Pest and Management (ICPM) made a considerable impact.
“Most farmers are actively adopting practices such as timely pruning and protecting their cocoa trees against pests and other diseases, without solely waiting and relying on government support and interventions as they used to do in the past years,” Gyarteng said.
“Interestingly, the message on Child Protection had the highest listening rate, and communities are ensuring that children of school-going age are enrolled in schools.”
Amplio’s mission is to empower the world’s most vulnerable communities through knowledge sharing. The Talking Book was designed and field-tested with communities in northern Ghana, and Amplio has operated in Ghana for 15 years (formerly as Literacy Bridge Ghana). Through partnerships with local and international development organizations, including government agencies, Talking Books have now reached over 1.3 million listeners in 13 countries, sharing knowledge across many sectors.
In 2020, Amplio partnered with Ghana Health Service and UNICEF on an award-winning COVID-19 awareness campaign in the Upper West Region. Watch a video