Over 70 percent of the world’s supply of cocoa beans is produced by just 4 west African countries. This figure does not represent the true potential of the region, owing partly to the characteristic feature of African agriculture not being commercial, and the inherent problems of rural-urban migration common to developing and third world economies. More young people are leaving the farms for the prospect of white collar jobs in the cities.
I don’t believe that funding alone can improve the sector, on the contrary I believe that improving the farmers access to their required resources, and efficiently coordinating the supply chain within the industry will greatly improve the situation for the coca farmers.
I am currently working/ designing and planning processes/ activities that will improve the profit and sustainable growth for the farmers within the industry. I believe that any initiative aimed at improving the sector must be focused on the primary stakeholders (i.e. the farmers). These initiatives must involve the collaborative concerted efforts of the farmers, agro-allied companies, finance institutions and food processing companies
Farmers organizing themselves into support groups will greatly improve the success of any initiative to improve the sector, such that
- Farmers will share knowledge and experiences easily within the group (group learning)’
- It becomes easier for farmers to gain from research works. Agricultural development and research agencies will spend lesser resources and time at reaching out to a group, than attending to individuals.
- The collective output of the group becomes large enough, hence, as a unit/ entity the group can broker better deal with the companies (both local and international) that consumes their output. therefore, they reduce the impact of middlemen on their profit.
- It is easier to encourage the best environmentally friendly farm practices within a group. The group can monitor and enforce the environmentally safe best practices, better than any government agency can.
- The groups can make bulk purchase (economics of scale) of their required farm input, therefore reducing their operational cost.
- The group can share resources, especially farm inputs such as machines and heavy-duty equipment that are too expensive for an individual farmer to own.
- A group will have better access to credit facilities that the individuals.
Europe and America consume over 70 percent the worlds production of cocoa. Therefore, siting plants closer to the west African cocoa farmers, that will process cocoa beans to cocoa butter and powder will prove efficient and more profitable for all (i.e. The farmer and the processing companies). These will reduce the cost of quality control for the companies, and increase the profit of farmers by eliminating middlemen. The same way, manufacturers of farm input should open more medium size warehouse to improve the availability and affordability of their products to the farmers.
I am working on facilitating collaboration among farmers, finance house and the manufacturers of the required farm input, tools and especially machines, such that the farmers can acquire these farm input without money, but will make installment payments for them, in a way that will be profitable for all.
I want to further research the west African cocoa industry (especially cocoa farmers and their activities), so as to help create a process that is self-sustaining and profitable for all the stakeholders in the industry. Therefore, I am seeking to work with any organization with similar goals, and I need information on projects aimed at creating/ improving supply chain for agricultural products from rural communities.
About two years ago, I sent a proposal to a multinational company producing healthcare equipment, to hold a seminar to discuss the need and benefits for hospitals within the country to share resources/ facilities, while they use the event to exhibit their healthcare solutions (products and services). January this year, I was invited by the same company to a workshop that looked like what I had proposed to them earlier. Hence my reason for seeking to work with an organization with similar goals.
I will appreciate the recommendation and support of anyone who can help.
Thank you for your time.