Joana Atta has been farming at Punikrom in the Western North region of Ghana for 36 years. She was not making any substantial gains from her cocoa farm and didn’t have time to look after her farm. Her engagement with Agrisus Consult changed things significantly for her. Agrisus is a Rural Service Centre providing agronomic services to farmers through climate-smart means with the aim of increasing and sustaining productivity.
“It was during one of our meetings at the Ghana Cocoa Board office in 2019 that I met Emile Anyormi, Chief Executive Officer of the centre. He explained to me that he could take over the daily management of my cocoa farm and help me increase my yield if I entered into a contract with him. I have been a cocoa farmer since 1983 and finding quality and timely labour to provide services such as weeding and pruning was challenging, so I took the offer,” Joana says.
Little did she know that accepting the offer would be the beginning of a better life for her. In 2019, Agrisus took over the management of Joan’s 7-acre farm and provided services such as weeding, pruning, fertilizer application and harvesting.
“The terms of the agreement meant that I did not need to pay anything in advance or upfront after work on the farm. Once the cocoa was harvested, the total cost of managing the farm for that period is calculated and deducted from the proceeds of the sale”.
Rural Service Centres
Rural Service Centres are supply chain structures established by young entrepreneurs with support from Solidaridad as a private-sector-driven vehicle that provides services such as training and access to inputs and financing smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and sustainability.
Under the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II), Solidaridad facilitated concessional financing for these entrepreneurs to build service centres to enable them to render services to cocoa farmers in hard-to-reach communities.
The 70-year-old has seen at least a 50 percent increase in her yield since allowing her farm to be managed by the service centre.
Joana is not only reaping the benefit of her sweat as an aged cocoa farmer, but also contributing to the cocoa sector’s sustainability through enhanced production.
When in the mood, she goes to the farm not to work but just to observe how it is blossoming. For her, the thought of having a guaranteed income from the farm when the need arises brings her respite.
Joana mentions that the pivotal moment of her relationship with the company was when she fell critically ill and was on admission in Accra. “I was away from my farm for months. This, however, did not affect the farm work. Emile and his workers took over the management of the farm and ensured that I got my share of the revenue from the sale of the cocoa after harvesting. This helped in paying for my medical bills.”
Joana can be sure that the cocoa farm is under better managers now and is enough reason for her to smile. “Now I don’t have to worry about labour and what to do to get more yields since that is being taken care of by the managers of the farm.”
Diversifying the business to improve her livelihood
Not managing the farm herself means more time for Joana to engage in other businesses for additional income. Today, she is channelling her time and energy into an ice cream business.
“I now work as an agent for an ice cream company and have reinvested in this business with proceeds from the farm. I am constructing a building, which will serve as a depot for the sale of ice cream. It would be the first in the area.”
Joana is one of the many farmers who has and continues to benefit from these services under the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme implemented by Solidaridad between 2017 and 2021.
The Embassy of the Netherlands in Ghana funded the programme to promote sustainable cocoa production.