Solidaridad West Africa, lead implementer of the Next Generation Cocoa Youth programme (MASO) has formally brought down curtains on the initiative after series of engagements in beneficiary communities and districts.
MASO, a five-year programme implemented between January 2016 and December 2020, focused on providing viable career options for the youth in cocoa-growing communities in Ghana. It was part of the Youth Forward Initiative funded by the Mastercard Foundation and implemented by six consortium members, made up of Solidaridad, Aflatoun International, Ashesi University, Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, Opportunity International, and the Ghana Cocoa Board.
The programme has created a critical mass of young entrepreneurial cocoa farmers, as well as youth-led professional service providers within the Ghanaian cocoa landscape.
Over 13,000 young men (57%) and women (43%) in 341 cocoa-growing communities in the Ahafo, Ashanti, Central, Oti, Volta, Western, and Western North regions enrolled in the programme, with over 9,500 of them equipped with relevant tools and skills to take up cocoa farming and related businesses.
Through the programme, more than 4,100 youth have established cocoa farms totalling 1,458 hectares while others were involved in setting up 449 service centres. These professional service providers and cocoa farmers are contributing to the development of the cocoa sector through climate-smart agronomic practices that improve productivity and avoid deforestation.
Since May 3, 2021 Solidaridad has been engaging with stakeholders in 341 programme communities in 11 beneficiary districts to take stock, reflect on the results achieved and lessons learned as part of activities to close out the programme.
In Dzolopuita in the Ho West District of the Volta Region, where one of such engagements was held, Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi, said the MASO programme demonstrated the business case for cocoa farming and related businesses and, thus, motivated many youth to venture into the trade.
He, however, called on stakeholders, particularly landowners and financial service providers to prioritize access to land and finance for youth who have interest and skills for cocoa production but struggle with these resources.
“As an organization that implements many other youth-focused interventions in the cocoa and oil palm value chains across our operations in Côte d’ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Solidaridad looks forward to applying lessons from the MASO programme to enhance the lives of other young people in the subregion,” said Mr. Gyamfi.
He thanked the partners and stakeholders for the support and encouraged the beneficiaries to continue to apply the knowledge and skills to improve their livelihoods.
The District Chief Executive of the Ho West District Assembly, Ernest Victor Apau, commended Solidaridad for supporting the assembly’s drive to curb rural-urban migration by sustaining the interest of the youth in cocoa farming through the creation of many job opportunities in the district. He also pledged the assembly’s continuous support to ensure that MASO beneficiaries contribute to the development of the district.