More than 1,000 cocoa-growing families and 5,000 cocoa community members in the Assin Fosu district of the Central Region are to benefit from the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping to provide precise measurements of farm acreage for their cocoa farms.

GPS mapping will help cocoa farmers plan and manage their cocoa farms better, increasing yields and farmer incomes.

It will as well enable farmers understand the actual size of their farms which makes it easier to make the best use of the latest practices in planting, pruning and fertilizer techniques for maximum yield and sustainability.

The programme is targetted at improving livelihoods among cocoa-growing areas through learning the latest in modern farming techniques and agricultural stewardship, including appropriate and inappropriate uses of labor.

It’s being introduced by the Hershey Company, a United States-based chocolate manufacturing company under its innovative project, ‘Hershey Learn to Grow.’

The ‘Hershey Learn to Grow’ initiative is part of Hershey’s US$10 million commitment in West Africa for the next five years to accelerate the company’s cocoa programme in the region.

The investment is aimed at helping to improve cocoa farming, community health and reduce instances of child labor.   

In addition, Hershey and its partner Source Trust will establish 25 community-based farmer organisations to improve the living standards of 1,250 cocoa farm families.  

Through good agricultural, environmental, social and business practices training; access to improved planting material; and financing for farm inputs, the goal is to double productivity yield and farm income over four years.  

These local organisations will be the home of the new farmer and family development that Hershey and partner Source Trust are creating in rural Ghana.

Last year, Hershey introduced mobile phone technology for cocoa farmers in an innovative program called CocoaLink.  GPS mapping and CocoaLink demonstrate that low-cost and widely available technology can provide farmers with new tools to modernise their cocoa farms and boost their productivity and livelihoods.  

In addition to the GPS farm mapping initiative, Hershey and Source Trust are surveying participating farmers to better understand current farm characteristics, farming practices, and pest and disease issues. 

This information will be critical in establishing a baseline from which to begin to help the farmers implement the best new practices and processes for making their farms more productive, diverse and successful.  

The survey process also will look at key indicators for household risk of inappropriate forms of child labor.  This will provide an important tool to help identify and monitor households at risk and to deploy information and programmes to mitigate the risk of child labor.

The Hershey Company is the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery. It has operations throughout the world with approximately 12,000 employees.

Source Trust is a not-for-profit organisation set up to help farmers improve their livelihoods through better crop yields and quality to be achieved through sustainable farming practices. Source Trust’s projects pave the way for long-term, sustainable cocoa production, while enhancing farmers’ business prospects.

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