A farmer, Sintim Baaba from Bompieso inspecting his cocoa farm.

About 600 cocoa farmers in the Huni Valley District of the Western Region have received diverse support to boost cocoa production under the Gold Fields Ghana’s Cocoa Farmers’ Support programme since the programme’s inception in 2018.

The Gold Fields Ghana Foundation since its establishment in 2002, invested over US$6.9million in entreprise development in its host communities, including various livelihood support programmes including the Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme. The Foundation launched the Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme in host communities of the Damang Mine in 2018 to support farmers’ efforts in obtaining inputs, benefiting a total of 600 farmers so far.

These farmers have received COCOBOD-approved fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides to enhance their cocoa production. In 2021, the Foundation donated spraying machines to the farmers to aid in the application of the agrochemicals.

The programme has since its inception been executed in partnership with the Cocoa Health and Extension Division, the Huni Valley Cocoa Farmers Association of Ghana, the Cocoa Coffee Shea Nut Farmers’ Association, and the Damang Mine Consultative Farmers Association (DMCFA).

The Foundation, in 2024, is investing over US$28,000 in the programme to support a total of 120 farmers. These farmers will receive Cocobod-approved fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides to enhance their cocoa production.

The company said the introduction of the Cocoa Farmers’ Support programme demonstrates that mining, if carried out sustainably can coexist with agriculture and even go a step further to boost agric production.

Some beneficiaries of the programme shared their excitement about the enormous gains they have made in their cocoa farming through the programme. Sintim Baaba, a farmer from Bompieso, said he has benefited from the programme for three consecutive years.

“Before the programme, like many of my fellow farmers, I struggled to get farm inputs for my cocoa farm production; however, with the introduction of the Cocoa Farmers Support Programme, everything has changed. I used to harvest about 8 to 10 bags from my two-acre cocoa farm each season, just enough to sustain myself and my immediate family, but never enough to truly prosper."

“For three consecutive years, I have received fertilizer, pesticides and fungicides from the programme. These farm inputs have been my allies, empowering me to nurture my cocoa trees like never before. With each application, I could see the difference in the health and vigour of my crops. I now proudly harvest around 18 to 20 bags of cocoa each season from the same farm. This significant increase has not only improved my standard of living but has also filled me with a newfound sense of pride and accomplishment “he noted.

Another beneficiary, Madam Esther Aggrey, also from Bompieso, said, “Not long ago, my cocoa farm was in big trouble. Diseases and pests were attacking my cocoa trees, and I felt sad watching my farm get worse every day. I could not afford to buy fungicide and pesticides to help my crops. Fortunately, I was enrolled into the cocoa farmers’ support programme in 2022. It felt like my prayers were answered.

Mad. Esther Aggrey, a cocoa farmer from Bompieso.

"From the moment I joined the programme, everything got better. No longer do I have to standby helplessly as my farm suffered. With the support from the programme, I received pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers to help me reclaim my cocoa farm from pests and diseases. I now harvest more than 12 bags of cocoa from my farm as compared to the previous 3 – 5 bags I used to harvest.”

She added, “For the first time in a long while, I feel hopeful about my cocoa farm. Every season, my farm gets better and better. I am getting more cocoa than I ever thought possible. What used to be a hard struggle to keep my farm alive has turned into a journey of success and growth. I am thankful for the Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme. It didn't just save my farm; it also gave me hope for the future.”

The District Cocoa Chief Officer, Huni Valley District, Mr Clement Sarpong, acknowledged the invaluable support extended by the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation through its Cocoa Support Programme to cocoa farmers in the area.

“COCOBOD has been monitoring the progress with great interest, and we are really happy with the extent of support that the Foundation has provided.”

He said the provision of cocoa inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides to the farmers “has been instrumental in bolstering cocoa production within the district. Additionally, the provision of machinery for spraying has significantly improved efficiency and productivity among the farmers.”

A farmer applying pesticide on his farm.

“I want to emphasize the positive impact that this support from the Foundation, in collaboration with COCOBOD, has had on the livelihoods of our farmers. Particularly this year, with the increase in cocoa prices and the invaluable inputs provided by the Foundation, we anticipate a significant improvement in the livelihoods of our farmers.”

On behalf of the Huni Valley District and the cocoa farming community, he extended sincere appreciation to the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation for their proactive and impactful cocoa support programme.

“Their initiative is not only helping to enhance cocoa production but is also contributing to the overall well-being and sustainability of our agricultural sector”he noted.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.