Cocoa entrepreneur Linda has come a long way. At the age of 16, she dropped out of school when she became pregnant with twins. Last year, Linda turned her life around by applying for the MASO* programme and was selected to be trained as a professional cocoa farmer to revive this struggling sector.
The 22-year-old is from Liate Wote, in the Afadjato South District, Western Ghana, which used to be a major cocoa and coffee growing community until widespread bushfires destroyed most farms in 1983. Since then, it has mainly become a tourist destination, hosting the highest mountain in Ghana and Tagbo Falls.
Young people, who are lucky enough to find a job, usually work as a tour guide and live off the ecosystem of the area. One of the main worries in the region is youth unemployment. Hence, this programme works with youngsters from these cocoa communities, to shift from subsistence farming to becoming cocoa entrepreneurs and ensure them a viable career.
In the MASO programme, Linda learned how to make a plan, create a budget, nurse and handle cocoa seedlings but also how to do business in this bittersweet sector. The young mother has just planted a one-acre cocoa farm surrounded by plantain, maize and cassava to offer temporary shelter for the cocoa seedlings. Apart from providing food, this intercropping also gives an extra income for this cocoa champion.
Many young people in Linda’s community have now been trained in cocoa farming and have acquired the 21st century skills to create a more sustainable world. As they now stay and contribute to the local cocoa industry, while no longer leaving for the big city in search for jobs, Liate Wote has a bright future.
*The MASO programme, containing Aflatoun and livelihood modules, was developed by Solidaridad in Ghana and supported by The MasterCard Foundation.