In our last Kickstarter campaign, our supporters sponsored 500 coconut seedlings for the cocoa farmers of Amanase and Suhum. Why does this make such a huge difference? Our Accra-based creative team travelled to the cocoa farms to find out more about the importance of diversification of income.
If you would also like to donate a coconut seedling, you can sign up for our newsletter – we will plant one coconut seedling for every subscription.
In Ghana, cocoa farmers rely solely on their cocoa produce during cocoa season as their main source of income. When the cocoa season is done, most farmers are left with little or no money to live on. Diversification of income is very important for the farmers as it plays a crucial role in improving their livelihood as they cultivate other crops which will help stabilize their income during cocoa off-season.
We met up with a few of the farmers in Nsuta-Wawase Community in the Eastern Region of Ghana and we are excited to share with you a female farmer’s story.
Meet Lucy Gyekyebea
The first thing we notice about her appearance, she doesn’t look like a farmer. She’s wearing a black blouse with a big bow across the chest with random patterned dots concentrating at the bottom with a pair of black tights. She’s also wearing beaded jewelry on her right wrist and a patterned wax print cloth, used on her head as a scarf. I’m in awe and I ask her if she’s really a farmer. Dhe bursts out cackling and proudly says “my whole life”.
Lucy is about 40 years old now, she has 5 children and no husband.
She mentions how, she and her all-girl siblings used to follow their dad to the farm when they were younger. She talked about how her life was turned upside down when she learned that their dad passed tragically and she had to inherit the farm.
She remembers very fondly when their dad bought cutlasses for all the girls when they were coming of age. Farming in this community is a male dominated occupation and so they were proud that they were working “like the men”
She said “I go to the farm on my own; I cultivate, prune, weed the cocoa farm and also do the harvesting by myself since I don’t have any labourers or helpers. It is a small farm, however, since I do everything by myself, it is a lot of work. I’m able to weed under the cocoa trees about 3 to 4 times a year all by myself.”
“My father really helped me a lot”, she recounted. “This is the work that he did to take care of us until he died and so I’m also following in his footsteps.”
Her sisters left for the big city to trade but she stayed to take care of her 5 children and their mother who is very old.
She takes a cutlass and cuts one of the pods off the tree and in one swing cuts it open and offers the team a taste of the raw cocoa beans.
Challenges of cocoa farming and the need for diversification
We ask her about some of her challenges with cocoa farming and she responds:
“Cocoa Farming is a very good job but we all face some challenges. I don’t have a husband or anyone else to help me. I do all the work myself and this can be very tiring. Sometimes I have to hire day labourers to help me but this is difficult for me because I also have to pay them. I trade as well, to supplement my income”, she explains. Sometimes when I’m not working on the farm, I go to the big city to sell bananas at the Madina market, in Accra.”
She mentions how she also received some of the coconut seedlings that were distributed to the farmers in the community and demonstrates her excitedness and is hopeful that when the seedlings mature after 3 years she can harvest it and make extra income from it.
She points to the seedlings on her farm and says, “each tree will yield about 200 coconuts per year. I’m so happy because It will bring me money all year round.”
Just like our partner Yayra Glover Ld. who are significantly improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers through the local processing of diverse agricultural commodities, we also mention to her about future plans of fairafric regularly buying some of the other fruits and food crops for the canteen that is being planned for the factory and she quickly says “ then you will buy my bananas, too” She tells us that when that happens, she wouldn’t have to go to the big city to sell her fruits over there anymore and that she wouldn’t have to worry anymore about unsold fruits that go bad.
Together with Yayra Glover Ltd., our vision is the diversification of cocoa farming and significantly improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers through the local processing of diverse agricultural commodities, including local species, maize and orange- fleshed sweet potatoes for affordable local consumption by farmers and export:
“Through this regenerative diversification model, I believe farmers will transition into alternative-income-generating activities that can earn them revenue beyond cocoa, improve land quality for agriculture, while becoming more resilient to vulnerabilities from environmental, economic and social shocks.“ says Yayra Glover.
Farmers in the various communities who have benefited from the initiative from fairafric can attest that it will help sustain and provide them with additional income which will afford them the opportunity to give their families and children the best.