Gold Fields boosts cocoa production in mining communities with US$28,000

Esther Aggrey, one of the beneficiaries of the Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme, weeding her cocoa farm

By Kizito CUDJOE

The Gold Fields Ghana Foundation is investing over US$28,000 in a programme to support a total of 120 farmers, in a bid to ramp up cocoa production in host communities.

The investment is in line with the Foundation’s commitment to sustainable development and community empowerment, aiming to increase the country’s annual cocoa production.

Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has injected over US$6.9 million into enterprise development initiatives in host communities, with a particular focus on improving local livelihoods.

Some of these support programmes include the “Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme,” initiated in 2018 within the Damang Mine’s host communities. This programme aims to assist farmers in acquiring necessary inputs for their operations.

A total of 600 farmers have thus far received support under this program, which includes Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) approved fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides, aimed at enhancing their cocoa production.

Baaba Sintim, a beneficiary of the Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme, applying chemicals to his cocoa trees

In 2021, the Foundation also donated spraying machines to the farmers to aid the application of the agrochemicals.

According to the Executive Secretary of the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation, Abdel-Razak Yakubu, the programme has been executed in partnership with key cocoa stakeholders in the area since its inception.

They include the Cocoa Health and Extension Division, the Huni Valley Cocoa Farmers Association of Ghana, the Cocoa Coffee Shea Nut Farmers’ Association and the Damang Mine Consultative Farmers Association (DMCFA).

The Executive Secretary of the Foundation explained that in a bid to scale up this initiative, his outfit is investing over US$28,000 in the programme this year.

The farmers will receive COCOBOD-approved fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides to enhance their cocoa production, he said.

He stated that the introduction of the Cocoa Farmers Support Programme demonstrates that mining, if carried out sustainably, can coexist with agriculture and even go a step further to boost agricultural production.

One of the success stories of the intervention is Baaba Sintim from the Bompieso community. Before participating in the Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme, Baaba, like many other farmers, struggled to obtain enough farm inputs.

He said despite his hard work, the cocoa farm only produced just enough to live on. However, with the programme’s help, Baaba’s situation changed dramatically.

“I used to harvest about 8 to 10 bags from my two-acre cocoa farm each season, just enough to sustain myself and immediate family, but never enough to truly prosper,” he remarked.

He added that: “For three consecutive years, I have received fertilizer, pesticides and fungicides from the programme. These farm inputs have been my allies, empowering me to nurture my cocoa trees like never before.”

With fertilizers and pesticides, his cocoa trees flourished, doubling the harvest to an impressive 18 to 20 bags per season.

He noted that the programme has not only improved his standard of living but also given him a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.

Similarly, Esther Aggrey, another beneficiary from Bompieso, shares her journey from despair to hope. Challenged by diseases and pests destroying her cocoa farm, Esther faced a tough battle to save her livelihood.

The Cocoa Farmers’ Support Programme, she said, became her lifeline providing her with the resources needed to combat the threats to her crops.

Today, Esther’s farm thrives, yielding over 12 bags of cocoa per season, a remarkable feat compared to her previous struggles.

“For the first time in a long while, I feel hopeful about my cocoa farm. Every season, my farm gets better and better. I am getting more cocoa than I ever thought possible. What used to be a hard struggle to keep my farm alive has turned into a journey of success and growth,” he stated.

On his part, the District Cocoa Chief Officer of Huni Valley District, Clement Sarpong said: “COCOBOD has been monitoring the progress with great interest, and we are really happy with the extent of support that the Foundation has provided”.

“I want to emphasis the positive impact that this support from the Foundation, in collaboration with COCOBOD, has had on the livelihoods of our farmers. Particularly this year, with the increase in cocoa prices and the invaluable inputs provided by the Foundation, we anticipate a significant improvement in the livelihoods of our farmers,” he stated.

Leave a Reply