Mr Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi, Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, has called on financial institutions to prioritise access to finance for the youth with interest in cocoa production but lacked financial muscle to succeed.
He said most youth with skills in cocoa production were not able to undertake the business due to lack of funds, therefore making capital resources available would encourage them to venture into cocoa business.
Mr Gyamfi said this in an address read on his behalf at a community engagement at Dzolokpuita, a farming community in the Ho West District of the Volta region as part of activities to end Solidaridad Next Generation Cocoa Youth Programme, also known as MASO.
The Director also implored landowners to make land available to the youth to go into agriculture to generate income to support themselves and help accelerate the growth of the country.
Mr Gyamfi said the programme demonstrated the business case for cocoa farming and related businesses and, thus, motivated many youth to venture into the trade.
“As an organisation that implements many other youth-focused interventions in the cocoa and oil palm value chains across our operations in Ghana, Côte d’ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Solidaridad looks forward to applying lessons from the MASO programme to enhance the lives of other young people in the sub-region,” he said.
Mr Gyamfi was grateful to partners and stakeholders for the support and encouraged the beneficiaries to continue to apply the knowledge and skills they had acquired to improve their livelihoods.
Mr Ernest Victor Apau, District Chief Executive for Ho West District, commended Solidaridad for supporting the assembly’s drive to curb rural-urban migration by sustaining the interest of the youth in cocoa farming through the creation of many job opportunities in the district.
He pledged the assembly’s continuous support to ensure that MASO beneficiaries contributed to the development of the district.
Solidaridad West Africa is the lead implementer of the Next Generation Cocoa Youth Programme, also known as MASO.
The five-year programme implemented between January, 2016 and December, 2020 was focused on providing viable career options for the youth in cocoa-growing communities in Ghana.
It was part of the Youth Forward Initiative, funded by the Mastercard Foundation and implemented by six consortium members, including; Solidaridad, Aflatoun International, Ashesi University, Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, Opportunity International, and the Ghana Cocoa Board.
The programme has created a critical mass of young entrepreneurial cocoa farmers, as well as youth-led professional service providers within the Ghanaian cocoa landscape.
“Over 13,000 young men (57 per cent) and women (43 per cent) in 341 cocoa-growing communities in the Ahafo, Ashanti, Central, Oti, Volta, Western, and Western North regions enrolled in the programme, with over 9,500 of them equipped with relevant tools and skills to take up cocoa farming and related businesses.
More than 4,100 youth have also established cocoa farms, totalling 1,458 hectares while others were involved in setting up 449 service centres.
These professional service providers and cocoa farmers are contributing to the development of the cocoa sector through climate-smart agronomic practices that improve productivity and avoid deforestation.