Youth must be encouraged into cocoa entrepreneurship

Accra, The high unemployment rate among Ghanaian youth could be reduced if the younger generation is encouraged to take up job opportunities the cocoa industry offers.

Mr Fred Frimpong, the Programme Manager at Solidaridad, an International Civil Society Organisation, said the younger generation must be introduced to the cocoa crop at an early stage to help them develop interest and possibly take up employment in the industry.

The cocoa crop has a myriad of opportunities for the youth to take up, so we believe that young people must be introduced to the crop at an early stage in their lives to help them develop that interest and possibly take up employment in the industry, Mr Frimpong said in an interview with the GNA.

He was speaking after Solidaridad partnered a local travel and tour agency, TN Delfah, to take about 100 children from selected basic schools on a sponsored learning tour to cocoa farms and the Ghana Cocoa Research Institute to help them develop interest in the cocoa sector.

The pupils, from De Youngster’s International and Jack and Jill basic schools in Accra, were taken on a sponsored tour dubbed ‘Cocoa Learning Experience’ to the famous Tetteh Quashie cocoa farm at Mampong and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) at Tafo in the Eastern Region.

They were taken through the different processes and varieties of products made from cocoa. Two other schools in the Ashanti Region would also benefit from the sponsored tour.

All this is in the spirit of helping the youth to tap into the numerous job opportunities of Ghana’s cocoa industry, Mr Frimpong said.

The cocoa industry’s value chain, from nursery through harvesting and the processing into chocolates, drinks and confectionaries, provide massive employment avenues for the youth who are seeking non-existent white colour jobs, he said.

Mrs Tina Amenyah, the Chief Executive of TN Delfah Travel and Tour, was full of praise of Solidaridad for supporting the initiative.

I realised that the youth have limited appreciation of the real value and opportunities that the cocoa crop offers to them and the Ghanaian economy.

So we decided to start this, as part of our local tourism drive, and also create an avenue for the younger generation to develop interest in cocoa, so some may become entrepreneurs in the cocoa value chain. Cocoa can offer them secure jobs, she said.

Dr Mrs Mercy Asamoah, the Principal Research Scientist at CRIG, said studies showed that the average age for cocoa farmers was between 55 and 65 years, so we are happy that this initiative is introducing the children to the crop, some can grow to become researchers, cocoa scientists as well as main stream cocoa farmers.

Ghana produced over one million metric tonnes of the beans in 2011 but output fell to an averaged of 850,000 tonnes annually since then, due to factors including pest invasion and unfavourable weather.

As a result, the Government and the Ghana Cocoa Board had put in place strategies to boost annual production and sustain it beyond the one million tonnes per year.

TN Delfah and Solidaridad’s collaboration would help the younger generation to learn about cocoa and develop the interest in becoming agriculture entrepreneurs, besides whatever profession they may choose in life.

Cocoa is considered as the back bone of Ghana’s economy as the commodity remains the country’s main agricultural export.

The chocolate making ingredient fetches the state billions of dollars in annual revenue and creates hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Ghana.

Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world, behind Ivory Coast and produces premium cocoa for the world’s chocolate industry.

Source: Ghana News Agency