Hershey, PA — Ghana farmers taking part in The Hershey Co.’s CocoaLink program increased yields 45.6 percent during a three-year span, according to an assessment by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.
The program, which was developed by Hershey, the Ghana Cocoa Board and the World Cocoa Foundation, delivered 1.2 million free, local-language text messages to the 45,000 cocoa farmers in 1,800 communities across Ghana.
The evaluation compared program participants’ output versus that of non-users in 15 Ghana cocoa villages and found that CocoaLink enrollees had output 10 percent higher than non-users, Hershey reports.
In addition, participating farmers showed increased general knowledge of cocoa production; the highest improvements in planting information, spraying and fertilizer application; greater understanding of appropriate and safe work for children in cocoa communities; and improved agricultural practices in pruning, weeding and using protective gear when spraying.
Leslie Turner, senior vice-president, general counsel and secretary for Hershey, says: “Our success shows that we can build a digital information network that engages current and emerging young cocoa farmers in building modern cocoa farms that will strengthen the sector and supply chain.”
Looking to improve the program, surveyed farmers expressed preferences for voice versus text messages, participating in conference calls with extension agents and a continued platform of community support programs, such as literacy training.