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Cocoa Farmers Linked To IT Infrastructure
 
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28-Nov-2011  
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From humble beginnings in the first cocoa farm established in the Eastern Region in 1879, cocoa has become Ghana’s largest cash crop and we currently hold the honour of being the world’s second largest producer of cocoa.

Today, more than 700,000 people across the country are employed as professional cocoa farmers, supporting their families and acting as the economic backbone of the nation.

The government and people of Ghana are constantly looking at ways of modernising farming processes and helping our farmers increase their output.

It is in line with this goal that the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), The Hershey Company, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and the World Education Ghana contracted DreamOval Limited to implement the information technology side of the CocoaLink Project.

CocoaLink is a public-private partnership that uses mobile technology to deliver timely farming, social and marketing information to local cocoa farmers to improve their farming processes, income and livelihood.

Currently, Ghana’s mobile phone networks cover approximately 85 per cent of the country and over 65 per cent of rural residents in Ghana have access to mobile phones.

This situation means that mobile phones and mobile technology in general are now positioned as an excellent way to communicate with our farmers in rural communities

The CocoaLink project uses voice and SMS messages to connect our cocoa farmers with one another and with the COCOBOD. The service is free for any cocoa farmer to enrol in.

The COCOBOD will provide information on improved farming practices, farm safety, child labour, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and marketing to farmers via voice and SMS messaging.

The use of voice and SMS messaging will ensure that every farmer directly receives the necessary information at no cost to themselves.

This initiative thus allows the COCOBOD and the other participants in the programme to adequately educate thousands of farmers in several remote regions around Ghana without the expense and time constrictions of formal education workshops.

The CocoaLink Project initially links more than 8,000 cocoa farmers and community members in 15 separate communities across Ghana’s Western Region. The districts involved initially are: Akontombra, Juaboso and Sefwi Wiaso.

The affected communities include Suiano, Nkonya, Kojokrom, Denchembosuo and Aprutu amongst others. The inter-connective nature of the CocoaLink Project will allow these thousands of cocoa farmers to share what they have learned and their best practices with one another and ask specific questions about pertinent issues from their fellow farmers and the COCOBOD.

This form of crowd-sourced information will be an excellent way to preserve and share the accumulated knowledge and experience of our farmers.

To increase the impact of this programme, each participating community will have local agriculture extension agents and on-the-ground trainers assigned to them to help the farmers use the mobile system and also to give them some hands-on tuition. These people on the ground in the communities will also help measure certain key metrics as we monitor the success of the programme.

These metrics include literacy training, cocoa productivity measures and improved farmer incomes.

DreamOval is proud in providing the technological expertise behind this project and doing our part in promoting a technology-driven revolution in cocoa farming in Ghana.
 
 
 
 
 

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