Today, fourteen-year-old Osman Mamutu enjoys school much more than he used to. And 29-year-old cocoa farmer Bonsu Osai was able to increase his cocoa harvest fourfold last year.
The schoolboy Osman Mamutu used to envy the children in his region who went to a private school: They had access to computers and learned how to use modern information and communication technologies. The parents of Osman Mamutu, cocoa farmers, could not afford to send their son to private school.
Access to a Computer
Thanks to the Village Resource Centre built by Lindt & Sprüngli in Assin Fosu, the Ghanaian community in which Osman lives, he and other children going to this school have the opportunity to use computers. Village Resource Centres are training centres equipped with computers and printers, which have been made possible under the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program. The Village Resource Centres are financed by the premium that is paid for each tonne of cocoa bought in Ghana for LINDT chocolate.
The centres are built at rural junior high schools that have not had any access to information technologies up to now. The rooms, are equipped with computers, Internet connection, printers, tables and chairs. During the day, the centres are used by the teachers and pupils in lessons, but they are also used in their free time. The headmaster of the secondary school in Assin Fosu, Joseph Albert Appiah, can well recall the time before the centre was set up "Most of our pupils' parents are cocoa farmers. Virtually no-one has their own computer, which is why the schoolchildren did not know how to operate a computer either. Today, all our pupils have access to computers and are taught Word, Excel and other programmes." Appiah is convinced that "computer knowledge is an important prerequisite for the pupils to get a good job later on."
Open Doors for Cocoa Farmers
In the evenings and at the weekends, the centres open their doors for cocoa farmers. Learning units in Twi, the local language, are installed on all computers. The individual videos provide training on topics such as the proper treatment of the cocoa trees, handling diseases, or the question of how illegal child labour can be avoided on the plantations. Many of the cocoa farmers are illiterate and they thus usually had no access to education. The audio-visual learning units close an important gap here: They teach the farmers content that they understand and can implement directly in their day-to-day work.
Bonsu Osai is one of the cocoa farmers who, thanks to making use of the training offered, was able to fourfold increase his harvest: "I have already been able to implement a lot of what I learned from the videos. I was thus able to increase the harvest of my fields from 5 to 20 sacks of cocoa last year." There are several stories like that of Bonsu Osai, and they all confirm: Access to information and specialist knowledge helps the farmers to improve the quality of the cocoa and to increase their harvest yields.