KUMASI, Ghana — The daily reality of being a smallholder farmer in West Africa means that most will rarely set an adult foot outside of their village. So it was a unique experience for 50 Ghanaian cocoa farmers when they got to step away from their farms for a day and into the city to witness the process of their cacao beans being transformed into smooth, dark liquor.
The special occasion was hosted by Olam last month at the state-of-the art cocoa processing facility in Kumasi, to celebrate National Farmers Day in Ghana. It came a few weeks after Olam marked the same occasion in Zambia with an agricultural fair for coffee farmers which turned out to be one of their most lucrative days of the year.
For Olam, the visit to the cocoa factory was about allowing the farmers to learn what happens to the products they grow; to feel part of a bigger purpose. So often smallholder farmers can feel cut off from the wider farming community: working in isolation, and missing out the opportunity to chat to others in their industry.
After their tour of the fully automated factory, the farmers left impressed and eager to share what they had learnt that day with their fellow cocoa farmers back home.
“Since October 2016 to date, I have harvested over 8,700 pods”
“I found it hard to believe that the trees that had fed me for the past 50 years could no longer support me and my family. I was simply scared of the unknown. But today, I am proud to say that I am an ambassador for cocoa rehabilitation. My farm was rehabilitated in 2015, and since October 2016 to date, I have harvested over 8,700 pods which fetches me no less than seven and a half bags,” Madam Fosua told us.
Supporting these smallholders is a key part of re-imagining global agriculture for the better and National Farmers’ Days provide the perfect occasion for Olam to celebrate them as the backbone of what we do.