Monday, August 1, 2011

Ghana’s cocoa farmers get solar powered boreholes


Sakyibea at the mechanised borehole for some water

Since the legendary Tetteh Quarshie brought cocoa seedlings to Ghana from the island of Fernando Po  many decades ago, the country’s fortunes have improved tremendously and that single cash crop, often referred to as the golden pod, has roped in a lot of revenue.
It has also offered employment to tens of thousands of Ghanaians right from the farms through marketing agencies, Ghana’s Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD), to the numerous factories that depend on the crop as raw material, right down to the wholesalers and retail outlets that sell the products from cocoa.
Name the products that are made from cocoa; from husks to seeds to by-products, both edibles and non-edibles – chocolate, Milo, Chocolim,Bournvita, Ovaltine, Richoco and a host of others, as well as body creams such as cocoa butter and body lotions.
Unfortunately though, the cocoa farmers themselves, through whose toil the country has raked in so much revenue, have not yet felt the full benefits of their toil, apart from the systematic and steady increase in the producer price of the precious beans over the years and the award of scholarships and bursaries to wards of cocoa farmers.
But for Rachel Sakyibea, a volunteer cocoa farmer who hails from Oda Asene, it is not all lost and the prospects are now so bright that she does not hesitate to leave her community to live and work on a remote farm for two weeks or more, because one basic necessity of life – good clean drinking water, has been provided just close by.
“First we did not have water at all; we used to drink from a well but the water was not good. Now that we have water we can spend two weeks here,” she said with relish.
Rachel is one of several volunteer workers on a 170 hectare cocoa farm belonging to her church – the Saviour Church of Ghana, which uses the proceeds to fund its missionary activities while contributing to the economic growth of Ghana.
Potable water has been made accessible to the Saviour Church’s farmers and others in very remote cocoa growing communities, with the introduction and implementation of a project tailored with the cocoa farmer in mind.
The project, dubbed a Government of Ghana project for the provision of solar powered mechanised boreholes in cocoa growing areas which begun last year, involves the provision of 55 of such pumps to cocoa growing communities in the Eastern Region.
It is estimated that when the programme is completed it will serve 16,500 people in cocoa growing communities in about four districts of the region.
Divulging this during a tour by the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) of some water and sanitation facilities under the watch of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr. Theo Mensah, leader of CWSA, Eastern Region’s team, said funds from CMB were used to procure the pumps and accessories but could not provide the total cost of a unit or the entire project.
Components of the facility, which are designed with technology from India and parts from Germany, include a mechanised fitting, a solar panel and overhead polytank.
The team of journalists visited one of the beneficiary farms near Abakoase in the Atiwa District, about 15 minutes drive from the main highway and about 45 minutes drive from Koforidua, the regional capital, to have a firsthand experience of the project and how it is improving the lives of its beneficiaries.
For now, only two of the facilities have been installed but it is expected that 44 would have been completed by the end of September, 2011, as the boreholes in those locations have already been dug.
The week-long field trip, which will also take the team of GWJN members to the Volta Region today, July 27, 2011, is being supported by the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, under its Improvement of Water Sector Performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) project.

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