At Mim, in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana, 33-year-old Osei Kwame is changing the face of cocoa production in his community through an innovative practice that provides effective agricultural services.
Raising the needed capital to purchase inputs and pay for farm labour continues to be a challenge for smallholder cocoa farmers. This has prevented many farmers from keeping to good agricultural practices in cocoa farming.
Kwame, who is also a cocoa farmer, saw pre-financing farm maintenance services and the provision of farm inputs, as a viable opportunity to help farmers address the challenge.
Solidaridad to the rescue
Solidaridad, as part of its effort to improve sustainable production of cocoa and stimulate supply chains through the promotion of innovation, marketing and trade relations, has supported Kwame’s business, Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’, with concessionary funding to establish a Rural Service Centre with offices and an agro-input shop.
The company also received support to acquire farm maintenance tools, such as pruners, slashers and mist blowers to enable the company to render services to farmers in hard-to-reach communities.
The Rural Service Centres are established by Solidaridad as a private-sector-driven vehicle to deliver production and marketing services for smallholder cocoa farmers under the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana.
The centres serve as a one-stop-shop that delivers services, such as improved planting material, agrochemicals, fertilizer, and crop protection, as well as extension and financial services.
Providing critical agricultural services to farmers
Following Solidaridad’s support to his Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’ Company Limited, Kwame has gone into an agreement with cocoa farmers to manage their farms on their behalf for a fee. The company pre-finances farm maintenance services and purchases agro-inputs for cocoa farmers who pay back after harvest.
After harvesting, the total beans are divided into three parts as enshrined in a written agreement. The farmer takes two parts and Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’ takes the third part as payment for their investment.
From a Beneficiary
Richard Kyei, a 42-year-old cocoa farmer, is a beneficiary of the services of Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’. He is now harvesting 23 bags from his 12-acre farm, which is a major leap from the nine bags he used to harvest before Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’ took over the management of his cocoa farm.
Richard Kyei has grown his harvest by utilising the Rural Service Centre
“Previously, there was barely anything left that I could put back into the business after catering for the needs of my nine children. Productivity was low because weeds took over my farm and disease control was poor. There was no credit available to support me,” he says.
Today, Richard’s story is different. He says the Rural Service Centre is a wonderful concept that is helping farmers to stay in business.
Now, with this support from the Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’, my farm is well taken care of. Productivity has increased, and so has my income. I can proudly say I am able to take care of all my nine children in school and take responsibility for other family needs.” – Richard Kyei
Improving the services of ‘Ahwesofopa’
After a year in business, Kwame says the success of the company is worth celebrating.
“Initially, some farmers were not convinced that they could benefit from their services. It was only 16 farmers who took the bold step of leaving their cocoa farms in our care. We are now managing 26 farms of a total size of 100.5 hectares for 21 farmers.”
Osei Kwame is hoping that his partnership with Solidaridad will help him implement the ‘Ahwesofopa’ concept on a larger scale and help many more cocoa farmers.
With a current workforce of 10, Kwame is looking forward to adding five more by the end of the year. As a short-term plan, Kwame seeks to raise adequate capital to enable his company to expand and provide more services to cocoa farmers.
A strategic approach to involve more youth in agribusiness
This Rural Service Centre houses inputs and tools for local cocoa farmers
“The success lies in the fact that we have been able to get the youth involved in cocoa production through youth-led service centres such as Cocoa ‘Ahwesofopa’. So far, we have been able to establish 17 centres across cocoa-growing communities in Ghana,” says Hammond Mensah, programme manager for the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme.
The Rural Service Centre falls under Solidaridad’s strategic plan to improve sustainable production of cocoa through the use of small and medium enterprises to deliver production support services to farmers. It aligns with the women and youth component of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme.
Read more about our work in Cocoa.