Farmers in Adansi South, a forested district of Ghana, used to make little profit from their Cocoa farms, due to little or no access to market. To improve the farmers’ livelihoods, the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) programme through the Kokoo Pa Farmers Association has given the women a means to make a profit for themselves and their families.

Kokoo Pa Farmers Association is a membership-based association with around 8600 farmers, women make up 1/3 of members. The association was formed in 2009 by cocoa farmers from an initial 10 communities in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. It is supported by the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) which is a partnership involving the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and other partners.

“My income has improved since I learned soap making skills and how to manage my finances,” says Mabel Bamflore. Portia Botwe says, “Since my partnership with Mabel, we have developed a strong soap making business, that has helped my finances.” Mabel and Portia are both 25 years old and raising their children in Obuobi, Adansi South District, Ghana. They have been supported by the farmers’ association to improve their livelihoods by teaching them new skills in soap making from cocoa waste materials such as the cocoa pod, and financial management. They are now financially stable with the training received from the association.

The training has helped Mabel and Portia partner with each other to bring together resources to build a strong business in soap making while managing their finances through the VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Association) method of saving their profit.

Before the intervention, there was an obvious observation of poverty in the community. The farmers depended too much on cocoa as their only source of income, which was not sufficient as market access was limited.

 Impact of the intervention on the farmers

Since November 2020, through the training and loans given to the farmers has improved their attitude towards financial management in their businesses. The association has also helped farmers build skills in entrepreneurship.

“Before the intervention I made really small income from my little farm practice and I could not save, but since my participation in the various trainings, I have started my business which has brought more profit and I can now save sufficiently with the VSLA available,” Portia said. Mabel also said just like Portia, she made little profit from selling the raw baobab produce from her farm, but now she has acquired the skill of making soap from the Baobab produce, she has made much more profit.

Improved entrepreneurial skills, improved access to finances

Mabel and Portia’s story shows that collective action can improve the profit of households and individuals. Many other farmers who went through the training have improved their produce and have learned to save their finances for themselves and their families.

By supporting farmers’ organizations like Kokoo Pa, the FFF programme improves the livelihoods and financial management skills of family farmers through entrepreneurship, contributing to advance sustainable food systems in Ghana. The FFF programme led by FAO is a partnership launched in 2012 to improve rural farming, forestry, and farmers’ organizations through collective action.