A global chocolate manufacturing company, Mondelez International, through its Cocoa Life Programme, has presented items worth GH¢546,000 to community animators in some selected districts in the country.
The 900 community animators are farmers and other players in the sector who have been trained by the company to educate cocoa farmers on ways to improve on their yields.
The items, which were presented to the beneficiaries in Accra yesterday, included Wellington boots, machetes, overall coats, flash lights, helmets, goggles, backpacks, raincoats and writing materials.
According to the Head of the Cocoa Life Programme in Ghana, Mrs Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, the objective of the programme was to build the capacities of community animators in all 450 communities in which they operated.
Each of the communities has a female and a male animators.
The 15 beneficiary districts include Juabeso, Bia West, Wassa East, Awutu, New Juaben, Fanteakwa and West Akim.
The rest are Suhum, Tepa, Sekyere East, Ahafo Ano North, Atwima Mponua, Amansie West and Asunafo North and South.
Mrs Amekudzi explained that as part of the sustainability of the supply chain, the programme was working with the farmers to ensure that the livelihoods of community members were improved.
“We believe in community members driving their development; we want communities to be active in issues of interest and so we created the animators at the community level.
“We have built the capacities of the animators and they have begun work. However, they requested that certain agricultural materials be provided for them to enhance their community work and this is what we are presenting now,” Mrs Amekudzi added.
The National Animator President, Ms Charity Ofori, who received the items on behalf of the group, thanked officials of the programme for the support and gave an assurance that the items would be distributed judiciously.
According to her, the various forms of support they had received from the programme had helped in improving their farm yields and livelihoods.
She, however, expressed concern over the practice of some people illegally cutting down cocoa trees for rubber plantation.
“Farmers in areas such as Asikasu, Odumase and Asamankese in the Eastern Region have lost more than 50 acres of cocoa farms due to this practice. Even as farmers, we do not have the authority to cut any tree unless we are given permit.
“Last year, a widow lost five acres of cocoa land to these people. They always scare us with court action, and since we do not have the money to go to court, they succeed in cutting down our cocoa trees,” she claimed.
Ms Ofori, therefore, appealed to the government to address the issue of illegal cutting down of cocoa trees.
The Cocoa Life Programme was launched in 2012 with the objective of investing $400 million in the cocoa sector by 2022.
The programme seeks to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers to train one million others in six key cocoa growing countries.
They are Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, India, the Dominican Republic and Brazil.