Patrick Kortey is an entrepreneur and cocoa farmer in Ghana.
As a young cocoa farmer, Patrick struggled to feed his family and to provide a quality education for his children. He was not alone. A statistical snapshot from the first 3 quarters of 2022 from the Eastern region of Ghana shows that over 250,000 young people (ages 15 to 35) did not participate in training or education, nor did they have opportunities for employment. However, in spite of the difficulties that faced his peers, Patrick embraced the life of an entrepreneur with unwavering determination. This commitment has propelled him forward so that his past struggles seem like a distant memory.
Patrick’s Rollercoaster Start as a Farmer
Completely reliant on his cocoa farm for income, and with limited knowledge of practices that could have improved his yield, Patrick and his family lived in difficult circumstances. As he says, “For each cocoa season (11 months), I earned as little as 2,000 Ghana cedis (173 dollars).”
For a father of four needing to support his family, this was woefully inadequate. His children’s education was inconsistent, since they only attended classes when there was enough money to cover the cost of transportation to school. This erratic and unpredictable attendance had a negative impact on their performance in school.
Patrick’s life took a significant turn when he joined Solidaridad’s Cocoa Life programme in 2019. Funded by Mondelez International, this project provided him with timely assistance that opened an exciting new chapter in his life.
The Benefits of Solidaridad’s Cocoa Life Programme
After in-depth training and two years of applying lessons on good agricultural practices, Patrick nearly doubled his annual cocoa yield, and as an added benefit the programme also trained farmers on ways to diversify their incomes.
For Patrick, this introduction to vocational training was the turning point in his life. After additional training from Solidaridad that emphasized possibilities for supplemental income, Patrick launched a grasscutter farming business. Grasscutters are a small animal in Ghana and important source of meat. Kortney’s new business quickly became profitable, and he used that income to start a fish farming project that today includes four fish ponds with a capacity of up to 7,000 fingerlings.
His first fish harvest yielded 4,200 Ghana cedis (372 USD) from the sale of both unprocessed and processed fish. Patrick now intends to tap into a growing market, by spawning and breeding fingerlings to sell to other aspiring fish farmers. Finally, in addition to fish farming, he has launched a venture to raise snails. This diversified agricultural portfolio has now nearly doubled Patrick’s income.
From earning only 2,000 Ghana cedis per cocoa season, he now earns a total of 3,800 Ghana cedis (338 USD) every month from multiple income streams. He is even able to provide educational support to two of his siblings. Patrick’s life is evidence of the transformative power of entrepreneurship combined with hard work and training provided by Solidaridad, plus an enduring faith in one’s own ability.
Patrick the Leader, Trainer and Role Model
Now, Patrick is sharing his passion for entrepreneurship with others, training nearly 190 people in his community, especially youth, in fish farming, grasscutter farming and snail rearing. As a result of his training, five farmer cooperatives have started to raise snails, while two other groups are involved in a grasscutter business. Additionally, ten young people have started their own fish farming businesses in an effort to profit from Patrick’s training and inspirational leadership.
Patrick’s achievements have sparked wide-spread community interest. Today, there is even more interest in Solidaridad’s Cocoa Life programme, while more young farmers have developed an interest in diversified livelihood projects. Patrick has joined in on community visits with the Solidaridad team to encourage more youth to take up farming as a business. Through his efforts, more young people in the district are venturing into cocoa farming.
The Cocoa Life Programme
Implemented by Solidaridad in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the Cocoa Life programme works to create a robust and sustainable cocoa supply chain that transforms the lives and livelihoods of cocoa farmers, including young people and their communities. Through the programme, farmers are trained in good agricultural practices and alternative livelihood options, and Patrick Kortey’s success is an example to others of the benefits and positive effects of the Cocoa Life project.