Rainforest Alliance partners help cocoa farmers

The Rainforest Alliance, in collaboration with the International Cocoa Initiative and Solidaridad Ghana, all non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have supported 11 residents of Bekwai cocoa district in the Ashanti Region with starter packs to enable them to start their own businesses and also continue their education to the highest level.

The items included school bags, exercise books, pens, pencils, and some other items, as well as cash to brilliant but needy students and cash for their parents to help them start some businesses.

The donation came as part of their “Yen Ne Mmofra No Nti” project, which has introduced a tool called the Human Rights Due Diligence Toolkit prepared for cocoa cooperatives, mining firms, gold associations, and groups operating in the cocoa and gold sectors of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and globally.

Rainforest Alliance partners help cocoa farmers

The tool will provide relevant information on the nature and impact of human right issues which include child labour, forced labour and gender discrimination in the cocoa sector, as well as the legal frameworks and internationally recognized standards that govern cocoa and gold mining across West Africa.

The President of Baakoye Cocoa Farmers Cooperative and Marketing Union, Opoku Acheampong, said that their cooperative is focusing on improving the education, incomes, and health status of people in underserved cocoa farming communities.

The union, he said, was formed out of 20 small cooperatives across the Bekwai District, embarking on small missions and programmes geared towards improving the standard of living.

He entreated the beneficiaries to take very good care of the items donated and money to business, adding that: “We would engage with the individuals regularly to check if businesses are making the needed profits.”

The administrator of the union, Isaac Arhin, said the executives of the union, as part of the project, first visited the communities in the middle of this year to understand their challenges, especially the children, youths, women, and vulnerable individuals living in the various communities across their district.

“We are here today to donate these items necessary to start or continue your education or business.” A board member of the union, Evelyn Babine, who took the beneficiaries through some business tips, said that the union will do its best to support every individual who needs support.“Our mandate is to heal, rescue, and lift people out of poverty,” she said, stating that she was proud that lives were being impacted through the cooperative.

She advised them to maintain proper records of their incomes and expenses, adding that checks would be made from time to time to ensure that the businesses were growing.

Senior Project Manager for the Yen Ne Mmofra No Nti Project, Joyce Poku-Marboah, when asked what she makes of this initiative to support these vulnerable individuals living in these cocoa-growing communities in the Bekwai district,

She answered, “Even though there is much more to be done, I’m very excited about the progress so far towards eradicating child labour.

“We seek to create awareness and build resilience in vulnerable people both socially and economically, and for us, getting the children back to school is an immediate solution, but making sure they remain in school is one of the reasons why their vulnerable parents and guardians are being supported with the knowledge, skills and resources to be financially and socially independent and empowered.”

The Chiefs and Assembly members of these communities expressed their appreciation to the Rainforest Alliance and their partners for coming to the aid of these identified individuals and the community at large.

“We are very happy, believing God that if we are able to do as led, we will be able to raise money to feed our families and train others to also become self-sufficient,” they said.

Read also: 5 Health Benefits of Moringa: Nature’s Powerhouse for Wellness

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