This week, ONE agriculture policy manager Kelly Hauser tells the story of a Ghana cocoa farm through photos.
Have you ever wondered where that stunningly delicious chunk of chocolate actually came from? Well, earlier this month, I got to find out. I traveled with a delegation of Yale Alumni ServiceCorps members who were already working in Ghana to visit a cocoa farming community working with the US non-profit TechnoServe. Cocoa is incredibly important to food security and poverty reduction in Ghana. Unlike some countries where cocoa is farmed on large plantations, the vast majority of the country’s 700,000 cocoa farmers are smallholders with around two hectares (5 acres) of land.
TechnoServe works directly with the Cocoa Abrabopa Association in Ghana, which has 25,000 member farmers. Ben, left, is the President of the Nuamak Cocoa Farmers, a participating group of 12 farmers working near the farm that we visited in the Twifo-Praso district. As President, Ben is responsible for general management and administration of his group.
Through TechnoServe, the groups learn to track the fertilizer and pesticides that they purchase on credit. If they wish to take out another loan, they are required to pay back the input company at harvest. Ninety-six percent of farmers pay back the company. Cocoa farmers in Ghana have a guaranteed buyer -– the government’s Ghana Cocoa Board.
The white fleshy part of the cocoa pod is quite delicious, and, in Brazil, it is used to make juice. However, Ghanaian cocoa beans fetch a premium price on world markets due to a unique fermentation process that involves the fleshy fruit. The beans are fermented for one week in banana leaves on the farm before being carried to the village for drying.
Almost all cocoa in Ghana is bought by licensed buying agents and is marketed through the Ghana Cocoa Board. Around 75 percent of Ghana’s cocoa exported for processing into chocolate and other products. The remaining 25 percent remains in the country.
In the Cocoa Abrabopa Twifo-Praso district headquarters, the Yale alumni and the Cocoa Abrabopa farmers had a middle school dance-esque discussion about the TechnoServe program. The farmers told us that yield gains from the program have translated into better incomes and more kids in school. Many of the Yale folks will go back to the US to host events to raise awareness about ONE, agricultural development and the power of US foreign assistance.