One thousand five hundred and thirty cocoa farmers at Suhum in the Eastern Region are to be trained in alternative livelihood skills to help sustain them aside from the cocoa farming.
Known as the ‘Farmer Business School’, the programme has so far trained 60 of the farmers in batches of 30.
Initiated by the Ecom Agro-industrial Corp Limited (formerly Armajaro Trading Ltd), a cocoa merchant company, the move is to ensure that the farmers, especially women, adopt alternative sources of livelihood such as soap making, bee keeping, as well as cultivate other crops aside from cocoa.
The group also provides the farmers with Sustainable Management Services (SMS) through which it builds the capacity of farmers to regard farming as a business.
Under the SMS, the farmers, drawn from 28 farming societies, are provided training on prudent savings and banking, as well as how to draw an effective balance sheet between their expenditure during a particular season and their earnings in that season.
The Ecom Operations Manager for Area 11, Suhum, Mr Michael Osei, who briefed a team from Nestle Ghana during a tour of the area, said the farmers were being trained to see farming as a business venture.
The Nestle team was made up of the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Mr Aaron Fenu, and the Nestle Cocoa Plan Intern, Mr Vincent Delessy.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan aims at increasing its suppliers’ profitability, securing high quality cocoa for its business and addressing supply chain issues such as child labour, gender inequality and poor social conditions.
Through the plan, the company distributes stronger plants, trains farmers in better agricultural practices, supports women farmers and improves access to education for children through its accredited cocoa merchants.
Mr Osei said through the training, the farmers would be able to tell how much they had invested in their farms and how much they were getting at the end of the season.
He said with the additional sources of income from the alternative livelihood skills, the farmers would have money on them at all times even outside the cocoa season.
Through the training, he said the farmers were also advised not to use their children on the farm for any hazardous work such as the carrying of cocoa, weeding and pruning on the farms.