Ghana women farmers partner to build a soap making business
Farmers in Adansi South, a forested district of Ghana, known for their production of rice, cassava, plantain, maize and vegetables, used to make little profit from their farms, due to little or no access to market opportunities. To improve the farmers’ livelihoods, the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) programme through the Kokoo Pa Farmers Association has given the women a means to make a profit for themselves and their families.
Kokoo Pa Farmers Association (formerly known as AHANSUCOFA) was formed in 2009 by cocoa farmers from an initial 10 communities in the Ahafo Ano North and Ahafo Ano South districts in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. It is supported by the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) which is a partnership involving the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and other partners.
“My income has improved since I learned soap making skills and how to manage my finances,” says Mabel Bamflore. Portia Botwe says, “Since my partnership with Mabel, we have developed a strong soap making business, that has helped my finances.” Mabel and Portia are both 25 years old and raising their children in Obuobi, Adansi South District, Ghana. They have been supported by the farmers’ association to improve their livelihoods by teaching them new skills in soap making from cocoa waste materials such as the cocoa pod, and financial management. They are now financially stable with the training received from the association.
The training has helped Mabel and Portia partner with each other to bring together resources to build a strong business in soap making while managing their finances through the VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Association) method of saving their profit.
Farmers’ association impacts the lives of their member farmers
Kokoo Pa Farmers Association is a membership-based association with about 8600 farmers, 5676 men and 2924 women in 7 districts in the Ashanti (Adansi South district), Brong, Ahafo, and Western regions. The association promotes cocoa beans production to meet member farmers’ livelihood needs.
The FFF programme supports the Kokoo Pa farmers association to promote women entrepreneurship and access to markets and finance, through training in different livelihood ventures of soap making, pastries, and the establishment of VSLA in 3 communities for financial inclusion.
Before the intervention, there was an obvious observation of poverty in the community. The farmers depended too much on cocoa as their only source of income, which was not sufficient as the market access for this was relatively low.
Impact of the intervention on the farmers
Since November 2020, through the training given to the farmers, the farmers’ association using VSLA, has improved the attitude of savings and financial management in their businesses. The association has also helped farmers build skills in entrepreneurship.
“Before the intervention I made really small income from my little farm practice and I could not save, but since my participation in the various trainings, I have started my business which has brought more profit and I can now save sufficiently with the VSLA available,” Portia said. Mabel also said just like Portia, she made little profit from selling the raw baobab produce from her farm, but now she has acquired the skill of making soap from the Baobab produce, she has made much more profit.
Improved entrepreneurial skills, improved access to finances
Mabel and Portia's story shows that collective action can improve the profit of households and individuals. Many other farmers who went through the training have improved their produce and have learned to save their finances for themselves and their families.
By supporting farmers’ organizations like Kokoo Pa, the FFF programme improves the livelihoods and financial management skills of family farmers through entrepreneurship, contributing to advance sustainable food systems in Ghana. The FFF programme led by FAO is a partnership launched in 2012 to improve rural farming, forestry, and farmers’ organizations through collective action.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.