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Farmer Revamps Cocoa Production
Written By: Priscilla Sogah
Hayford Otoo, 52, became a cocoa farmer in Ghana at a time when agriculture contributed to about 60% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Otoo jumped onto the cocoa bandwagon, linking his future to the premier cash crop. However, due to his limited knowledge in the best farming practices, Hayford relied on the support of neighbors to nurture his young cocoa farm.
“It was very difficult for me at the time, because my neighbors were not always available.” Said Otoo. This practice continued for 17 years and resulted in a very low harvest when the cocoa trees started fruiting. According to Otoo, his first harvest was only half of a 65 kg jute bag and he had to rely on help from his brother to help enable him to sell cocoa and earn money.
Soon, Otoo lost his faith that cocoa production would ever provide a profitable career path.
Otoo and more than 1,000 cocoa farmers received regular training on good agronomic practices through the CARE Farmer Business School, a program that teaches farmers the theoretical approach to modern farming while exposing farmers to the business of farm management. Otoo, was among the first group of farmers to benefit from CARE’s Farmer Business School within the Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District in Ghana’s Central Region, which is part of General Mills cocoa sustainability initiative.
CARE provides farmers with hands-on training on demonstration farms jointly owned by farmers in CARE beneficiary communities. The practical training on demonstration farms are usually informed by knowledge acquired by the Farmer Business School.
Since this training, Otoo’s harvest has seen significant progress. He now cultivates three acres of land, although he started with one, and cultivates plantain as well.
In the first year of CARE’s program, Otoo harvested three bags of cocoa and as of September of 2016, his harvest has increased to 12 bags.
“CARE’s presence in my community has been very helpful; I now earn enough income to meet my family’s needs because my production has increased.” Said Otoo