Janet Kamasa, is a final year student at the Accra Girls Senior High School. She is studying General Arts but in the future, her dream is to become a decorated military officer and dutifully serve this nation. Cecil Owusu is also a final year student at Ideal College, Accra who is studying General Science with the hope of becoming a civil engineer in the future.
Both students were part of a group of 100 students from Accra Girls and Ideal College who participated in a one-day factory tour of two cocoa processing companies in Tema: Niche Cocoa Industry Limited and Cocoa Processing Company Limited.
They were taken through the entire value chain of processing cocoa from when the beans arrive to what the beans go through before they become chocolate, cocoa powder, and other beverages such as Milo and Richoco enjoyed at breakfast every morning in homes.
Despite learning in school about Tetteh Quarshie’s cocoa farm and how Ghana became one of the largest producers of cocoa in the world, these students have never experienced how cocoa is farmed, harvested, dried, bagged, exported or sent to factories to be processed. It was an eye opener for these young ones when they saw the science behind the making of chocolate.
These students are now inspired to look at cocoa farming or processing as a future endeavor in addition or as a substitute to their original plan for the future.
Janet, who loves Kingsbite Chocolate noted that she felt very inspired by what she had learnt and seen. “After university I want to become a military woman but after what I have experienced, I want to venture into cocoa by doing the farming,” she said. With a father who is already into vegetable farming, Janet believes she will succeed as a cocoa farmer and employ more people.
Cecil, after the tour, is looking at having a change of heart when it comes to future plans. “I am very inspired and learnt a lot of things. As an agricultural product I have learnt so much that I didn’t know before. All I knew was to consume products made from cocoa but I have learnt about how such products are made and the benefits the raw cocoa brings to the body and the economy.
I will love to do and know more about cocoa farming and processing. In the future I want to be a civil engineer but looking at what I have learnt, I will want to venture into cocoa farming and I thank the sponsor have done well,” he said.
But how did it become possible for these students to have such an eye opening experience? It began as a passion for Tina Amenyah, the CEO of TN Delfah Travel and Tours, who felt that the youth do not know much about the world of cocoa apart from what they enjoy at breakfast or snacks.
She then took it upon herself to get them on farm and factory tours. Looking at how wonderful and impactful the idea is, Solidaridad, the international civil society organization, founded in 1969 with the objective of facilitating the development of socially responsible, ecologically sound and profitable supply chains, couldn’t help but come on board as the main sponsor.
Under the tagline, ‘Cocoa Learning Experience’, Ms. Amenyah, began this project last year with farm tours for junior high school students. “I feel that Ghanaian school children, especially those in urban areas, do not know about cocoa including how it is farmed, processed and later becoming chocolate,” she said.
“In school, they learn a lot of things but such a tour can open their eyes to other possibilities including taking up cocoa as a business in any part of the entire value chain even if they want to become an engineer or doctor. I want Ghanaian children to venture into cocoa farming or processing because we need to reduce the amount of raw beans we export. Cocoa is a healthy product and the youth can play a key role in making more money from it,” she added.
She was full of praise for Solidaridad for supporting the initiative. Last year, 100 students from two junior high schools went on farm tours in the Ashanti Region and this year, 100 students have been taken through factory tours. After the tour last year, the students wrote essays on what they learnt and this year’s tour will see a quiz competition on what was learnt and lessons drawn for future plans.
“Next year, my main focus will target the tertiary students to educate them on the field and factory cocoa processing. Our children and youth need to know all the benefits of cocoa. We picked the children because we want the youth to know that cocoa is the backbone of Ghana,” she noted.
After the tour last year, Fred Frimpong, the Programme Manager at Solidaridad, noted that the younger generation must be introduced to the cocoa crop at an early stage to help them develop interest and possibly take up employment in the industry.
“The cocoa crop has a myriad of opportunities for the youth to take up, so we believe that young people must be introduced to the crop at an early stage in their lives to help them develop that interest and possibly take up employment in the industry,” he said.
TN Delfah and Solidaridad’s collaboration would help the younger generation to learn about cocoa and develop the interest in becoming agriculture entrepreneurs, besides whatever profession they may choose in life.