Mr Strikker said the impact the CORIP II programme has made on the economic lives of cocoa farmers and the owners of 53 rural service centres was commendable. These comments came during a visit to rural service centres and zero tillage model farms established under the programme.
The team, made up of officials from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a member of the European Union delegation in Ghana, also visited the regional offices of the Ghana Cocoa Board in the Western North and Western South regions to confer with the organization’s respective regional heads on areas of possible collaboration and support for the cocoa sector in Ghana.
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The regional managers of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the Ghana Cocoa Board in the two regions, Samuel Asare Ankamah and Kwame Owusu Ansah, both lauded the Dutch government and Solidaridad for supporting the sector over the years, and asked for additional support in the area of cocoa rehabilitation and intensification.
The visit was also to keep the embassy abreast of the progress of CORIP II, and to demonstrate how Solidaridad, through the programme, is collaborating with CHED in the area of training in climate-smart cocoa production.
The Cocoa Health and Extension Division has been at the forefront of the control of cocoa swollen shoot virus disease, rehabilitation of old and unproductive cocoa farms, and the provision of extension services to cocoa farmers. Solidaridad’s effort at rehabilitating and intensifying cocoa production to maximize land complements that of the CHED.
Mr Strikker said the embassy was very pleased that Solidaridad was working closely with the Cocoa Health and Extension Division to align efforts.
For his part, the Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi said, guided by Solidaridad’s rich experience in establishing rural service centres in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the organization is willing to partner the government to set up a rural service centre unit within the Ghana Cocoa Board. He said this could strengthen agricultural extension support to cocoa cooperatives in Ghana.
“Solidaridad is hoping that our collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board will result in the selection of rural service centres as service providers under the government’s cocoa farm rehabilitation initiative, which was recently launched,” said Mr Gyamfi.
Solidaridad’s support for rural service centres under CORIP
The second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (2018 – 2021) is funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Accra. This follows the successful implementation of the first phase of the programme between 2013 and 2017, which demonstrated the business case for developing the West African cocoa production and processing sector through the set up and operation of small and medium enterprises, known as the rural service centers, as a one-stop shop for delivering sustainable cocoa production services to farmers.
The second phase of the programme builds on the successes of the prequel by establishing rural service centres run by young entrepreneurs with support from Solidaridad as a private-sector-driven vehicle to deliver production and marketing services for smallholder cocoa farmers.
Solidaridad facilitates concessional financing for these enterprises to build service centers in rural communities, pay for labour and to procure the needed agro inputs and tools to enable them to render services to cocoa farmers in hard-to-reach communities.
Additionally, Solidaridad, through an investment readiness support model, prepared the SMEs for commercial funding to grow their businesses. The support, which includes training in business modelling, climate-smart cocoa production and entrepreneurship, has given the enterprises the professional outlook needed to attract impact investors.So far, 53 small and medium enterprises have benefitted from this support under the programme.