Dutch Ambassador sees potential in cocoa farming for youth

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Dutch Ambassador sees potential in cocoa farming for youth

The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul is advocating the involvement of the youth in cocoa farming as a long-term plan to replace the ageing cocoa farmers.

Dutch Ambassador sees potential in cocoa farming for youth  He said it was important to take deliberate steps to attract the younger generation to the cocoa sector, which is the mainstay of Ghana’s economy.

The Ambassador said this when he interacted with various stakeholders in the cocoa sector as part of his three-day visit, together with Solidaridad West Africa, to four regions.

The Regions, including Ashanti, Bono, Ahafo and Western North, are benefiting from phase two of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II) implemented by Solidaridad.

Funded by the Dutch Government, the four-year project has impacted the lives of thousands of people, especially women, driving the agribusiness space in the cocoa sector.

The visit was to enable the Ambassador to familiarise himself with the sector and see how the structures developed under CORIP II could feed into the new cocoa strategy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Ghana.

Ambassador Verheul first visited Aponaponso, where he interacted with a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), inspected a cocoa farm as well as other additional livelihood activities of members.

In 2018, Solidaridad, Pan African Savings and Loans (PASL) and Kokoopa collaborated to develop a smallholder loan product known as Akuafo Loan, which has benefited over 5,000 VSLA members in beneficiary communities.

The Ambassador, who was impressed with the impact of the project on the lives of members of the group and their dependants, implored them to maintain the cooperative to sustain their livelihoods.

He said coming together as a group to improve their economic situation was an important start to a huge enterprise and urged them to consider their farming and additional livelihood activities as businesses.

He then visited the Regional Office of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD in Sunyani, which is one of the partners in the implementation of CORIP II.

Solidaridad, in collaboration with Community Extension Agents (CEA) of CHED, has trained about 25,000 farmers in the Bono and Ahafo Regions on climate-smart cocoa production under the project.

Mr Emmanuel Anokye, the Regional Manager of CHED, who received the Ambassador and his team applauded the Dutch Government and Solidaridad for the impactful intervention.

He said CEAs training of farmers was helpful and urged the farmers to adhere to best agronomic practices to increase yield to grow the sector.

Ghana and the Netherlands, according to the Ambassador, had long-lasting trade relations, especially in the cocoa sector, with many Dutch companies involved in the processing of cocoa.

He said that explained why the Dutch Government had over the years rolled out various interventions in the cocoa sector aimed at improving yields, quality cocoa beans and incomes of farmers.

 By Yussif Ibrahim, GNA 

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