With COVID-19 still affecting all aspects of life, cocoa farmers in Ghana are struggling to meet production targets due to the impact of the pandemic.
Some of these cocoa farmers in rural communities have little or no access to hand hygiene, sanitation facilities, and information on COVID-19 prevention measures.
As a result, a COVID-19 Exposure Risk Mitigation exercise is being rolled out to support over a hundred thousand smallholder cocoa farmers across fifty-seven districts in six cocoa regions in Ghana.
Under the program, the beneficiary farmers who are members of a cocoa co-operative, Kuapa Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union Limited, are provided with hand washing stations in their respective communities and other personal protective equipment to help them fight the pandemic.
A team of public health and clinical health specialists have been deployed to these cocoa communities to educate them on COVID-19 prevention protocols.
“We have also embarked on a behavioral change campaign, using radio and video messages and also posters to teach them on symptons recognition and early reporting and measures to prevent them,” Dr. Fred Bedzrah, Head of the Kuapa Cocoa COVID-19 Mitigation Team said.
The Kuapa Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union Limited, a cocoa co-operative also help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on its member-farmers.
The farmers have been provided with hand hygiene stations, hand sanitizers, reusable facemasks, and training in soap and nose masks production.
“Athough the pandemic came with some adversaries to us, notable among them were situations where contracts were cancelled and we also lost revenue which we should have used to better the lives of the farmers. But that notwithstanding, we have partners like Root Capital who have come to sustain us by providing interventions that we can use to protect the farmers,” Nelson Adubofour, Executive Secretary of the Union said.
The co-operative, as part of the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation program, has been supported with three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars for the purchase of the items and also help mitigate the economic impact on farmers. Farmers will also be supported to identify and report suspected cases of the virus in their communities.