By: Adwoa Gyasiwaa/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana
The Ghana Cocoa Board COCOBOD in partnership with Hershey Company and the World Cocoa Foundation WCF has launched a new mobile telephony system dubbed “CocoaLink – Connecting Cocoa Communities” to deliver timely farming, social and marketing information to cocoa farmers to improve their income and livelihoods.
Through this programme, cocoa farmers will receive and share practical information with experts on new farming techniques, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing through voice and SMS text messages delivered in their local languages or English.
Cocoa farmers across the country are expected to text the word COCO to short code 1980 at no charge or be registered by an agriculture extension agent to join the link.
Cocoa farmers in 15 communities in the Western Region are participating in the pilot programme with each participating community having a local agriculture extension agent and on-the-ground trainers to ensure a successful programme.
The programme will reach more than 8,000 cocoa farmers in the country and it is expected to grow to reach 100,000 farmers within three years.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister for Employment and Social Welfare E.T. Mensah commended COCOBOD and it partners for giving meaning to corporate social responsibility.
He said “Gone are the days when corporate social responsibility was just a piece of rhetoric intended to placate environmentalist and human rights campaigners. Hershey through CocoaLink project has given practical meaning to corporate social responsibility as a facet of business”.
E.T. Mensah pledged his ministry’s support in ensuring a successful implementation of the programme and appealed to cocoa farmers to send their children school.
Present at the launch were Mr. Tony Fofie, CEO of COCOBOD; Mr. Andy McCormick, Vice President of The Hershey Company; Charlie Feezel, Education and Programmes Director, World Cocoa Foundation and some farmers.