Vikas is a staff writer for the Sustainable Development news and editorial section on Justmeans. He is an MBA with 20 years of managerial and entrepreneurial experience and global travel. He is the author of "The Power of Money" (Scholars, 2003), a book that presents a revolutionary monetary economic theory on poverty alleviation in the developing world. Vikas is also the official writer...
Hershey's CocoaLink Program Supports Farmers in Ghana
The Hershey Company, in association with the Ghana Cocoa Board and the World Cocoa Foundation, is running an innovative mobile telephony outreach program to benefit the cocoa growing farmers in Ghana. In its first year, CocoaLink, has already delivered more than 100,000 messages related to farmer and family well-being to more than 4,000 participating farmers.
Under the outreach network in Ghana's cocoa growing regions, about 40 percent of farmers registered in the CocoaLink program have attended literacy training and community farming sessions. The mobile farmer technology includes text and voice mail in local languages to improve the productivity of farmers and raise their income levels.
This is a first-of-its-kind effort to connect Ghana's cocoa farmers with valuable information related to farm safety, modern farming practices, crop disease prevention, crop marketing, post-harvest production, child labor and health. The program involves several on-the-ground partners and is well on its way to reach 25,000 farmers by the end of the year.
Farmers are able to ask specific questions related to cocoa growing with the help of CocoaLink. They can share their critical social and agricultural learnings with other farmers. This eventually benefits the farmers, their families and the cocoa growing community as a whole. The entire mobile technology program is funded by Hershey.
Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng, Project Director of CocoaLink & ECHOES for World Education, says: "CocoaLink has proved to be an innovative and effective way to reach farmers in the remote cocoa growing villages and make a meaningful impact on their livelihoods and their families. CocoaLink helps agriculture agents reach many more farmers than they could through face to face visits and we are also excited by the progress in literacy training and reducing the technology gap for rural women."
CocoaLink is now focused on expansion across three major cocoa regions in Ghana, which include Western, Easter and Ashanti. The success of the program in Ghana has encouraged Hershey and its partners to work with the government in Cote d'Ivoire to bring the network into that country, another major global cocoa producer.