Accra, March 19, GNA – Partners in the CocoaLink project has officially handed over the server used in the pilot phase to the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) to ensure sustainability in implementation of the programme.
In addition, the partners, including the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the Hershey Company, handed over 60 solar chargers, 125 samsung Galaxy Young smart phones and 30 pieces of LED bulbs to the COCOBOD.
The WCF and Hershey were the donors for the pilot phase of the project, which spans three years and a transition phase of six months.
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.
The CocoaLink project uses voice and SMS messages to connect cocoa farmers with one another as well as the COCOBOD. The service is free for any cocoa farmer to enroll in.
By this, the COCOBOD provides 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 ensures that every farmer directly receives the necessary information at no cost to them.
Mr Sonai Ebai, Chief of Party of the World Cocoa Foundation, said the collaboration was now benefiting about 50,000 cocoa farmers, who were receiving cocoa extension and other social messaging.
‘These messages eventually result in improving livelihoods of the farmers, empowering them by building farm management capacity through improved access to information and services using mobile technology,’he said.
He commended COCOBOD, especially the Cocoa Health and Extension Division, for the exceptional aptitude in managing the programme and the team sending out the messages to farmers.
‘The World Cocoa Foundation and the Hershey Company believe the items would go a long way to contribute to Cocobod’s unending and highly commendable efforts to improve linkages with farmers through technology,’ Mr Ebai said.
He said the partners would continue to provide technical support as needed, including discussions on linkages of Cocoalink to the World Bank’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture implemented e-Agric programme, which would see the setting up of a call centre where farmers would be able to have live chats with cocoa agronomy experts to help their farming practices.
Dr Francis Oppong, Deputy Chief Executive for Agronomy and Quality Control, said the CocoaLink project had made significant contributions in reaching cocoa farmers with information.
He said in the face of inadequate number of extension officers it would be very difficult to reach the over 800,000 cocoa farmers with direct extension services.
Dr Oppong said through CocoaLink the Cocoa Board would enhance the reach to as many farmers as possible to enhance productivity.
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