Travel, tourism and events company, TN Delfah, has partnered with Solidaridad on a noble course of driving youthful enthusiasm and expertise to the country’s cocoa sector, as a strategic move to sustain a critical business that serves as the backbone of the Ghanaian economy.
With the vast majority of cocoa farmers aged between 52-56 years, the future of such a lucrative sector hangs on a thread line, a phenomenon that demands urgent activism that will drive fresh energies to the cocoa industry.
This is exactly what the TN Delfah and Solidaridad partnership is all about; courting youthful expertise to the country’s cocoa sector.
Last year, TN Delfah walked students from Accra Girls SHS and Ideal College through some cocoa farms and then to two cocoa processing companies: Niche Cocoa Industry Limited and Cocoa Processing Company, to get them more familiarised with cocoa and other activities along the value chain.
These activities were captured under an initiative dubbed “Cocoa Learning Experience”—which is basically about getting students well educated and informed about the viability and business opportunities that exist in the cocoa industry, and to ultimately sell to them the idea of cocoa entrepreneurship.
This year’s Cocoa Learning Experience took a twist from that of last year, as students from Ideal College and Accra Girls SHS were quizzed on the cocoa sector, in an amiable and fun-filled event at the Accra Tourist Information Centre.
“The Cocoa Learning Experience initiative is to whet the appetite of young farmers or the youth to venture into cocoa production even while they are still in school.
Through this experience, they will see things that are exciting and once they have a better understanding of the industry, they will have love for it and when they get the opportunity they will go into cocoa production,” said Mr. Kwesi Amenya, Public Affairs Manager of Ghana Cocoa Board, who acted as the guest speaker for the occasion.
To him, the age rate of cocoa farmers who are engaged in the production of cocoa, a commodity that is very important to this country, is getting higher by the day, hence the need to support and encourage activities that will drive the youth to take interest in the business.
He added: “On the average in Ghana, a cocoa farmer is about 52 – 56 years. Now looking at it, you know, in the long term, if we don’t pay attention to making sure that the youth come into the sector, then it means that the sector is a dying one.
It is for this reason that stakeholders within the cocoa sector, teaming up with TN Delfah, and with the support of Solidaridad, are trying to get the youth into the sector to help grow the cocoa industry.”
Aside the Cocoa Learning Experience, Mr. Amenya said Cocobod has launched a number of programmes aimed at building a youthful base of cocoa farmers to replace the current aging population of farmers within the broader context of securing the production of the country’s largest foreign exchange earner.
Among these initiatives, he mentioned, are the “Youth in Cocoa Initiative”, a programme that seeks to encourage young farmers to come together to gain the needed support to push their cocoa farming business.
He said the support includes educating the young farmers on good good agronomical practices, treating cocoa farming as a business and all the undertakings that are necessary to get them to be good cocoa farmers.
Mr. Amenya added: “We have also put in an awards scheme for farmers and one of that awards schemes is to isolate the young people and give them awards as young cocoa farmers and also isolate the female and give them awards as enterprising female farmers.”
Chief Executive Officer of TN Delfah, Tina Amenya, indicated an interview with the B&FT that the initiative was to “school” the students on cocoa, what can be done with the commodity—aside being the highest foreign exchange earner to the country—and to inspire them to think of the industry as a lucrative area of investment.
“This year, we decided to quiz the students to see if they are captured what they experienced from touring cocoa farms and factories. We wanted to make it so lively that they will remember this experience and practice whatever they have learned,” she said.
As a laudable initiative, Mrs. Amenya urged Cocobod and other stakeholders in the cocoa sector to help sustain the programme in the interest of building a mass of youthful expertise to the industry.
She noted: “I am appealing to the government and stakeholders to support this programme because they youth are the backbone of the nation just as cocoa is the backbone of the economy.
For companies that use cocoa as their raw material in their industries, they should support this programme so that they can get the cocoa all the time to maintain their factories.”