The majority of Ghana’s cocoa farmers are ageing according to MASO, an organisation that trains young people to enter the cocoa farming industry.
MASO is running a programme to prepare a new generation of young farmers to replace an ageing population and is presenting the sector as an attractive option for Ghanian youths. The plan is already paying off, according to the Programme Manager of MASO, Philip Kankam.
The programme was introduced in 2016, and now covers six cocoa-growing regions of Ghana; the Volta region, Ashanti, Oti, Ahafo and Ashanti. It has a particular interest in encouraging the participation of women and points to a number of success stories.
The initiative hopes to contribute significantly to future cocoa production, and so far MASO has trained over 12,000 young new farmers in both cocoa farming and related business activities, in conjunction with one of their consortium partners, Solidaridad.
Kankam stated that while the programme has already recruited more young people than initially planned for this year, a number of these beneficiaries have already started cocoa farming and other related businesses.
Kankam noted that about 1,458 hectares of cocoa have so far been cultivated by the trainees. The impact of this rippled through the industry with over 600 small scale businesses in a support function being created as a direct result. Kankam expressed a hope that the trainees would then impart their knowledge onto others to create sustainable knowledge growth, for the benefit of the industry.
One challenge is to cultivate a culture of saving among the trainees, and in this regard, the MASO programme introduced ‘youth savings and loans associations’ in the beneficiary cocoa communities. Kankam explained that this is to prepare the trainees to be able to save and be able to access credit to expand their businesses.
MASO, is a five-year programme aimed at nurturing the next generation of cocoa farmers. The programme is sponsored by the Mastercard Foundation and supported by a consortium, led by Solidaridad that focuses on creating employment opportunities for the youth in Ghana’s cocoa communities.