Cocoa is the chief agricultural export of Ghana. It doubles up as Ghana’s main cash crop. Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world. Cocoa contributes about 3% of Ghana’s gross domestic product. Its production occurs in about five regions providing livelihood for over six million people (25-30% of the population).
Over two-thirds of these farmers engage in peasant farming. They grow cocoa on very small lands and care little about mechanizing or improving their farming practices. Owing to this, in spite of the overall success in the Ghana cocoa industry, cocoa farmers have been battered with a lot of problems till date. Chief among them is the low productivity which causes them to face extensive financial hardship when cocoa is out of season. Below are some of the challenges farmers have been battling with;
When cocoa is out of season caretakers and farm owners borrow and are required to pay extra 100%in six months. Failure to pay at the stipulated time leads to 200% increase in the initial amount at the end of the year. When cocoa is out of season, farmers and caretakers really suffer. It becomes difficult for some of them to even afford common salt. These problems come about as result of low yield and poor financial management.
Cocoa yield is very low because
Most farmers lack the technological knowledge needed to boost production
Peasant farmers who have benefitted from trainings organized by some existing firms are sceptic in applying them as they seek exceptional confirmation and vivid results from others first.
Most farmers and caretakers don’t act from the entrepreneurial point of view. They always rely on government and cocoa purchasing firms to provide them with farm inputs. Even though some farmers are genuinely limited by funds, some intentionally leave their farms to the mercy of nature only to blame government.
According to Ghana Cocoa Board’s (COCOBOD) report in 2015, most of Ghana’s cocoa are old, around 30 years and thus have declining productivity.
With an average life expectancy of 62 and an average age of 52 for Ghanaian cocoa farmers, Ghana’s cocoa industry lacks youth who form the larger part of the population. About 27% of young people are not in education and do not work (Pasanen, 2016).
Most farmers carry the wrong concept that large farm size is the only key for high quantity of cocoa yield. They therefore fail to focus much attention on proper management which is key for high productivity.
Most farmers don’t have access to approved agrochemicals.
There aren’t firms who take full authority of farm management on behalf of farm owners.
Lack of access to loans and tailored flow of cash to farmers and caretakers.
Lack of inputs and financial support which causes farmers to lease their farms to others for very low deposits but more number of years. Farm owners receive their farms in degenerated states.
Lack of timely access to agricultural information like exact time for fertilizer and agrochemicals application.
Lack of financial security like Social Security and National Insurance Trust Schemes (SSNIT) for old farmers.
In as much as these problems have persisted for years, there is high potency of addressing them. Over the years Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the board in charge of Ghana’s cocoa, has intensified its extension service to help provide relevant knowledge to farmers. It has brought improved cocoa varieties and has also been replacing old cocoa farms with the new improved variety. Other firms like Touton S.A Ghana, Olam and Produce Buying Company (PBC), among others, have also been working hard to increase productivity by provide training and guidance to farmers and caretakers.
While some of the trainees have assimilated these principles, most of the trainees are very sceptic in applying them as they seek exceptional confirmation and vivid results from others first. Their actions makes the efforts by these firms often produce intangible results.
To effectively address this problem, a firm must take authority over the management of these cocoa farms as caretaker firm and absorb the caretakers as its staff so as to ensure that mechanization and improved management practices can be employed.
How We Intend Solving The Problems
Majestic cocoa, a firm registered with this course in mind, seeks to enhance the productivity of Ghana’s cocoa by taking full control of farm management to;
Eliminate intense financial distress that farmers go through when cocoa is out of season, by taking over the position of caretakers. Existing caretakers of clients’ farms will be absorbed into the company’s monthly salary system and will become automatic workers of the firm only if they will. Farm owners will be provided with their two-thirds portion of the total yield as existed before. They will only be required to pay for the farm inputs like fertilizer and agrochemicals at the end of the cocoa season. Flexible payment plans will be made for them since our ultimate aim is to make farmers happy and be at peace at all times.
Address poor farming practices through constant training of farmers and caretakers.
Institute farmers pension scheme by involving our clients in the Social Security and National insurance Trust Scheme (SSNIT) through the monthly salary initiative.
Secure farmers ownership of farms, their access to loans and other services by assisting them to produce proper documents.
Ensure timely application of fertilizer and agrochemicals.
Provide recommended farm inputs.
Provide financial assistance to farmers when they are in tough financial crisis
Provide financial training for farmers and caretakers to enhance efficient use of their funds.
It will create work for the youth which are the real target for this company’s labour force.
Further train and assist farmers to rear and produce vegetables and to provide ready market for them. This initiative will further enhance the financial state of farmers.
The innovativeness of the idea
Since virtually all cocoa firms are into purchasing of cocoa seeds rather than managing farms, this business idea of branding the management of cocoa in a more modern and mechanized way stands out and provides an effective means of enhancing productivity in the country.
Market and potential customers or users.
There is ready market for cocoa beans in Ghana because the country has an established controlled marketing system called COCOBOD. There are over twenty (20) cocoa purchasing firms which compete with each other for the limited beans produced each year.
All cocoa caretakers and cocoa farmers (farm owners) are prospective clients who will be willing to embrace our idea.
Strategy and Management
The company will at the initial stage be composed of
A manager who will be in charge of the overall operations of the firm, has experience in management, know more about cocoa, innovative, a good team builder and a man of integrity.
Secretary who should be able to document every proceedings in the company, interact well and communicate the firm’s goals and objectives to people.
Legal practitioner who will ensure that all agreements between the company and any party is backed by law and heeded to.
Solar powered irrigation firm.
Farmerline Company or any company which can develop an app to enhance information availability to our field personnel and another app for effective data storage.
Agriculture extension officers who will be in charge of cocoa management trainings organized by the firm. They will also liaise with the supervisors to ensure that caretakers apply new principles.
Supervisors who will be in charge of the effective output of caretakers. They will ensure that caretakers work in groups to enhance high output.
Caretakers: Initially, only caretakers who are already in the cocoa industry will be employed so as to reduce training cost.
Strategy for launching Project
Company will commence operations from the environs of Bonsu Nkwanta in Western Region because the problems to be addressed are very predominant in the area.
Goals and objectives
The Firm anticipates these by the next ten (10) years;
About 10000 acres of managed cocoa lands with about 2000 workers.
The firm would have been known for its integrity and excellent customer service.
Farmers (clients) joyfully testify of improved living conditions.
All farms under our care would have received proper documentation.
All workers and clients would have been enrolled on the SSNIT pension scheme.
Firm would have been operating in all cocoa regions in Ghana.
The firm would have be operating in other cocoa producing countries in Africa.
Key Factor to the Project’s Success
Monthly salary for caretakers will enhance farmers’ participation
Good farm documentation and farmers enhanced access to loans
Constant training of human resource, especially caretakers
Provision of financial support to farmers when necessary
Non readiness to enter into the cocoa purchasing field will shift away unnecessary competitions
Mechanized farming and solar powered irrigation system will enhance project’s success.
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