Improving the Quality of Cocoa Production in West AfricaIn 2004 the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) began a training program for cocoa farmers in the West and Central African countries of Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria. The aim of the training was to help participating farmers "increase their family incomes by educating them on better growing techniques, crop diversification and other productivity-enhancing steps."
Source: World Cocoa Foundation
The WCF's 18-session Farmer Field Schools "also raise awareness of safe pest management and responsible labor practices," the latter including encouraging parents to send their children to school.
As one gauge of the success of the training, the WCF reports that participants' farm-generated income rose between 15% and 55% following the training. As one particular example, the WCF describes the experience of a cocoa farmer in Ghana named Kwabena Antwi-Boasiako:
Prior to attending the Farmer Field School (FFS) ... Mr. Antwi-Boasiako had never thinned out [his cocoa trees] ... or remove[d] chupons and mistletoes (light pruning). By attending the FFS and participating in field exercises, he saw and learned how crowded trees are thinned out, and mistletoes and chupons are pruned. He used to believe that the more cocoa trees per unit area, the more pods he would harvest. But through the FFS discovery-based learning exercise, he came to appreciate that correct spacing of cocoa trees (8-10ft x 8-10ft.) and regular removal of chupons resulted in increased pod formation and size, while reducing pests and diseases. Mr. Antwi-Boasiako has since put into practice all that he learned, especially by thinning out and reducing the number of trees on his field. He has witnessed increases in yields and income of over 60% within one year after FFS as evidenced from his cocoa sales pass book.The Farmer Field Schools are a part of a larger WCF initiative, the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP), which
aims to improve the economic and social well being of tree crop farmers and the environmental sustainability of their systems in West and Central Africa. During the Pilot Phase [2003-2006], a first set of technology transfer, marketing, and institutional innovations were introduced and validated in the field. As part of this, 16,320 farmers were directly trained through the participatory Farmer Field School approach and 38,716 farmers indirectly benefited through farmer-to-farmer diffusion of knowledge. Trained farmers realized yields 15% to 40% greater than non-trained ones. Farmers participating in group sales arrangements received 5% to 15% higher prices for their cocoa. Phase II of the program [2007-2011] will build upon the successes of the pilot and address additional production, marketing and policy opportunities identified during the pilot, while strengthening local capacity.You can view a video (about seven-minutes long) describing STCP's work in Ghana here. (The audio is sometimes hard to decipher.)