CocoaLink delivers 100,000 farmer messages in year one
Ghana cocoa farmers have received more than 100,000 messages related to better farming and family well-being during the first year of CocoaLink, a mobile phones outreach programme sponsored by The Hershey Company, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF).
Hershey reports that CocoaLink, a first-of-its kind program that uses mobile voice and SMS text messages delivered in the local language or English, connects cocoa farmers with important information about improving farming practices, farm safety, child labor, health, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing.
The programme launched with its first message to Ghanaian farmers in July 2011 is now the largest mobile farmer technology program of its kind. Working with many on-the-ground partners, CocoaLink is on track to reach 25,000 farmers by the end of the year.
“CocoaLink has proved to be an innovative and effective way to reach farmers in the remote cocoa growing villages and make a meaningful impact on their livelihoods and their families,” said Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng, Project Director of CocoaLink & ECHOES for World Education who has implemented the program in 15 villages in Western Ghana. “CocoaLink helps agriculture agents reach many more farmers than they could through face to face visits and we are also excited by the progress in literacy training and reducing the technology gap for rural women.”
CocoaLink enables farmers to ask specific cocoa growing questions and share learnings with other farmers about critical agricultural and social information, benefiting farmers, their families and entire cocoa-growing communities. The mobile technology program is managed through a partnership between Hershey, COCOBOD and WCF, and is funded entirely by Hershey.
During its first year, CocoaLink has delivered more than 100,000 critical farming and social messages to more than 4,000 participating farmers across Ghana. These messages teach farmers how to employ modern farming techniques such as pest control and pruning that improve their yields and raise their incomes. Research has shown that improved incomes and livelihoods are critical to getting children in cocoa communities into school and keeping them there.