Madam Suzan-Hermina Yemidi, the Country Representative and Global Coordinator for Cocoa Programme for Solidaridad, has called for more efforts to secure the future of cocoa production in the country.
She said much emphasis must be given to the youth who are the future custodians, because, the average age of the cocoa farmer in the country is around 57 years which does not auger well for the sustainability of the crop.
Ms Yemidi said government is doing its best to promote the cocoa sector, however, there are non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders who can bring in complementary programmes to support the youth.
She was speaking to the media after the official launch of cocoa life programme held under the theme: ‘’Cocoa Life, Together we can transform our lives”.
Solidaridad, an innovative civil society organization accelerating global economic development, partnered with Mondelez International’s Cocoa Life Program from October 2018 to September 2020 to implement a new extension approach in 89 communities in six districts and municipalities of the Cocoa Life Programme in the Eastern Region.
The Cocoa Life is a sustainability programme of Mondelez International which assists cocoa growing communities to strengthen their capacities to determine and achieve their own long-term goals geared towards driving their own economic development and prosperity.
The Cocoa Life Program has directly reached out to about 37,000 cocoa farmers across 447 communities in five regions across the cocoa belt in the country.
Ms Yemidi said the extension approach will focus on five areas, facilitating the adoption of improved agricultural practices and providing access to improved planting materials, crop protection and financial services.
She said they will also ensure the empowering of communities to lead their own development with the help of the community Action plan.
Ms Yemidi said the youth would be encouraged through quality education and efforts would be made to make cocoa farming a more attractive profession for young people.
She said they will also improve access to financial services and promote entrepreneurship and additional income to support the livelihoods of the farmers.
Ms Yemidi said the project would ensure that the cocoa ecosystems is maintained and the landscape of cocoa farms are protected.
Ms Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Head of Cocoa Life Programme, said her outfit is looking at transforming farming, livelihoods and communities.
Mr Samuel Gyimah Gyemfi, the Eastern Regional Senior Technical Manager of Cocoa Health and Extension Division, said it is very worrying how the country’s cocoa production is gradually going down adding that cocoa is an important crop to the farmers and the country.
He called for the need to encourage the farmers to embark on sustainability cocoa production that can sustain the crop for many years.