Solidaridad West Africa, lead implementer of the Next Generation Cocoa Youth Programme, which is also known as MASO has formally ended the programme with series of engagements in beneficiary communities and districts.
The five-year programme implemented between January, 2016 and December, 2020 was 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, including; Solidaridad, Aflatoun International, Ashesi University, Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, Opportunity International, and the Ghana Cocoa Board.
This was contained in a press release signed by Fanny Nana Ampon, Communications Manager for Ghana and read by Madam Stephanie Dornu-Sarpong, Head, Gender and Quality Management Systems on behalf of Mr Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi, Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa at Dzolokpuita in the Ho West District on Thursday.
The release said the programme had 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 per cent) and women (43 per cent) 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.” it said.
It said more than 4,100 youth have also established cocoa farms, totalling 1,458 hectares, while others were involved in setting up 449 service centres.
The release said “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 stakeholders in 341 programme communities in 11 beneficiary districts to take stock, reflect on the results achieved and lessons learnt as part of activities to close out the programme.”
Mr Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi, Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa, said the programme demonstrated the business case for cocoa farming and related businesses and, thus, motivated many youth to venture into the trade.
He called on stakeholders, particularly landowners and financial service providers to prioritize access to land and finance for youth interested in and with skills for cocoa production.
“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,” he said.
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.
Mr Ernest Victor Apau, District Chief Executive, Ho West District, 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 contributed to the development of the district.