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Financial and social literacy for young cocoa farmers in Ghana

In partnership with Solidaridad, we piloted a financial and social literacy programme with young cocoa farmers in Ghana to encourage them to work in the sector.

Cocoa production is Ghana’s largest agricultural activity supporting approximately 6.3 million people and generating more than $2 billion in annual bean sales. But even as the world’s demand for cocoa rises, output is declining.

The pilot, which was implemented by Solidaridad West Africa and ECOM, and supported by Aflatoun, tested a new curriculum with around 300 young people aged between 17 and 25 years. Participants attended 12 training sessions where they were taught financial, social, leadership, entrepreneurial and cocoa agricultural skills. The programme also provided tools – including facilitator guide, farmer workbook, coaching guide and posters on best practice – as well as a support network.

The programme is part of Unilever and Solidaridad’s strategic partnership to improve the lives of 1 million people in our extended supply chains. The partnership focuses on promoting gender equality, improving agricultural and labour practices, land management, and supporting young agricultural entrepreneurs.

Meet some of the farmers

Emmanuel Frimpong

Name: Emmanuel Frimpong
Age: 25
Location: Asumenya in the Amansie West District

Emmanuel cultivates a two acre cocoa farm. But like most young farmers, he had no formal agriculture training and, as a result, has low yields and makes little income from selling other crops he produces cheaply.

He said, “Transporting my produce to the market was a problem, so most of the time I was forced to sell them at give-away prices. I consistently earned very little income from my farming activities”.

A few months after training, he saw an improvement in his finances due to his new-found entrepreneurial skills. In addition to growing cocoa, Emmanuel has also started a poultry farm to diversify his income.

“Today, I am better able to negotiate a good price when selling my produce and boost my income from my farms”.

Emmanuel is hoping to increase his cocoa yields this year using his training and new knowledge of best practice.

Following the training, Emmanuel and his colleagues have also gained recognition in his community. “We are like role models now. Other young people who were not part of the training now want to learn from us”.

Rachel Nyamekyi

Name: Rachel Nyamekyi
Age: 23
Location: Asumenya in the Amansie West District

Rachel is a senior high school graduate who used to help her grandmother on her six acre cocoa farm, but never imagined becoming a farmer herself.

“I never saw a future in cocoa cultivation which is the major crop most people grow in this community. I thought it was something for the poor and old. Not for us, the energetic youth”.

Through the project, Rachel has changed her mindset. She is now aware of the many opportunities available in the cocoa sector and aims to one day own her own sustainable cocoa farm.

“In a few years, I want to acquire some land to start my own farm. I believe it will change my life and that of my family”.

Impact

The ’Financial and Social Literacy for Youth in Cocoa’ programme ran in Amansie West District in Ghana from September 2015 to February 2016.

Overall, 297 young people (40% female, 60% male) aged 17-25 years from 10 communities were trained using this curriculum and methodology, for a total of 40 hours over 12 training sessions.

To gauge the impact and success of the programme, 218 young people were sampled - 142 of whom participated in the pilot (65%) and 76 of whom didn’t (35%). Here are the findings:

Beneficiaries’ perception on Training Programme

Overall conclusions

The training programme has helped participants by:

  • increasing general interest in cocoa farming
  • providing business skills to make cocoa farming more profitable and less boring
  • showing how to save, budget and borrow money efficiently
  • explaining the importance of protecting water sources and keeping the environment clean
  • highlighting the causes and effects of child labour, and the solutions to the issue

Both participants and facilitators demonstrated positive results on their knowledge of the training modules, the capacity of beneficiaries to implement or adopt the things learnt in the training, the likelihood of knowledge transfer to peers, and the overall relevance of the training modules.

An informal observation also noted that peer-to-peer learning is taking place in all clusters with farmers who were not part of the project seeking assistance from participating farmers on how to improve their business.

How the new curriculum improved knowledge and behaviour

Gabriel and Frank talk to farmers
  1. 32% of participants understood the local farming systems and Ghana’s cocoa value chain compared to only 4% of non-participants
  2. 68% of participants gained a good understanding of savings compared to 25% of non-participants
  3. Participants acted as mentors and coaches to other people by helping them develop their own thinking - 39% of participants did this compared to 15% of non-participants
  4. Participants had a more positive attitude towards handwashing than non-participants. On average, participants washed their hands three times a day compared to non-participants who washed them twice a day.
  5. Participants have a better understanding of diversity and global citizenship as well as democracy, participation and transparency.

Challenges and further opportunities

Group picture of the youth training

There were some aspects of the training where no significant difference was noted between participants and non-participants such as their knowledge and behaviour in problem solving and critical thinking, and life goals. Both groups had a fair knowledge about the minimum age for employment in Ghana. There was also no significant difference in their understanding of good agricultural practices, although this may be due to participants being involved in other programmes.

Overall, the pilot was en a success, but there is more that can be done to take this to the next level. The current curriculum will undergo further evaluation and improvement before being implemented under the MASO programme (Next Generation Cocoa Youth Programme).

The main challenges faced in this pilot can also be incorporated into the MASO programme. These include access to land and finance, and amending the age bracket to 25-45 years to cover the majority of farmers who would benefit from the training.

Unilever and Solidaridad are currently exploring further opportunities for replicating this curriculum across other commodities and regions.

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