More than 80,000 young people in Ghana are to benefit from a training programme to prepare them to venture into cocoa cultivation.

Dubbed: “Ma so”, which literally means ‘lift it’, the five-year programme is aimed at ensuring that the youth, aged between 18 and 25, become productive by earning decent incomes from farming.

The programme, which was launched at New Edubiase in the Adansi South District in the Ashanti Region yesterday, is being organised by Solidaridad, a Dutch development agency that promotes social justice and sustainable production of food and energy, in collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Mastercard of Canada.

The rationale behind the programme is to replace the ageing population of cocoa farmers and increase cocoa production in the country.

The programme, which commenced in Ghana in January this year, forms part of a $74-million project being executed in Ghana and Uganda to train and help the youth to gain sustainable employment.

Addressing the youth who attended the launch, the West African Director of Solidaridad, Isaac Gyamfi, expressed concern over the increasing number of youth who completed school without employment opportunities in the country.

He mentioned the lack of employable skills among the youth, compelling them to resort to social vices to earn a living.

He indicated that it was to address those challenges that Solidaridad was collaborating with COCOBOD, with financial support from Mastercard, to undertake the exercise.

Gyamfi appealed to chiefs and landowners to readily offer land on flexible terms to enable willing youth to venture into the cultivation of cocoa.

He said the youth would be supported technically, while Fidelity Bank would assist them with funds and in the management of their farms, especially in the areas of book keeping and investments.

The Ashanti Regional Director of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division of the COCOBOD, Faustina Asamany, assured the youth that the government would support them in their venture.