Report From The National-level Cocoa Farmers' Forum

Progress Blog
Report From The National-level Cocoa Farmers' Forum

By Yaa Peprah Amekudzi - 03/05/15

My favorite sport is basketball, and Michael Jordan's quote about teamwork was on my mind as a group of us from Cocoa Life coordinated our Cocoa Life National-Level Cocoa Farmers' Forum in December 2014.

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"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."

Michael Jordan

We organized the program, made travel arrangements, checked the equipment, and hung banners. Successful teamwork characterized not only our efforts to facilitate the event, but also the theme of the forum itself, which was titled, "Empowering Cocoa Farmers Through Sustainable Partnerships."

This past year, for the first time ever, farmers from the 209 operational communities attended. At the last Cocoa Life National-Level Cocoa Farmers' Forum in 2012, there were 56 cocoa farmers. However, at the most recent event, there were 457 farmers, including 154 women. These farmers came together to learn about how to engage with government and NGOs to address challenges in the cocoa sector.

As the presentations got under way, there was a sense of eagerness to fully listen, learn, participate, and cooperate. Dr. Francis Oppong, Deputy Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (also known as COCOBOD), delivered a profound keynote address regarding the position of COCOBOD on critical sector issues. Sessions for the farmers in attendance touched on new and best practices for cocoa production, marketing, and women's community involvement. Ghana Health Service also provided farmers with a health screening, an important contribution, because access to health care in most of the operational districts is extremely difficult, and the farmers are doing very physical work year-round.

The joy of learning from experienced people and getting questions answered kept everyone engaged throughout the event, and the atmosphere was charged with farmers' enthusiasm. For Mr. Adama Issah of Kroboman, which is in the Bia West District in Ghana's Western Region, it was his first time being in the midst of colleague farmers from various districts of Ghana—and he was thrilled. It was the type of dynamic event that he had dreamed about in the past, but never thought he'd ever get to experience in person. Hearing others share their knowledge about cocoa production and attest to the benefits of being part of a formal farmers' group, Mr. Issah was excited for Cocoa Life to start full intervention in his district.

"We are ready to welcome you fully into the district. In fact, we need you."

Mr. Adama Issah of Kroboman

After the forum, Mr. Issah followed up with phone calls to receive updates on how to implement new processes, and volunteered as the focal person for his district.

It is clear that the forum had positive impact: Farmers said that they would duly inform their colleagues who could not make it to the forum on all that they had learned. Subsequent monitoring visits to the districts have revealed that the farmers truly did spread the message to their colleagues.

As we at Cocoa Life see knowledge shared from farmer to farmer and ideas exchanged between cocoa farmers and other stakeholders in the supply chain, it’s exciting to be a part of strong teamwork in action.

Yaa Peprah Amekudzi is Cocoa Life's Program Director, Ghana

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