Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions
About 65 percent of the world's cocoa comes from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Most of this cocoa is produced by smallholder farmers, who are responsible for producing about 90 percent of their countries' total agricultural output on plots about one hectare in size. Farmers’ children are increasingly abandoning their farms in search of better jobs and opportunities in urban areas, which has resulted in cocoa farming being viewed as an occupation for the uneducated. Those children who remain in rural areas suffer from insufficient educational infrastructure and are at risk of child labor on their family farms.
To address these challenges, Winrock works as an implementing partner on the Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions (ECHOES) project, a public-private partnership between the World Cocoa Foundation and USAID. ECHOES offers cocoa producing families basic and vocational education with a focus on modern cocoa growing techniques. Integrated education programs and hands-on learning through the establishment of more than 60 school vegetable gardens and cocoa demonstration farms reach children, youth and adults, with offerings targeting the unique needs of each age group. Programs support alternative learning opportunities and provide skills to improve agricultural production, financial literacy, business management and life skills. Between 2007 and 2012, more than 12,000 students and 2,000 youth and farmers have benefited from agricultural livelihoods training.
In addition to basic skills training, the project has constructed or renovated over 45 schools and community computer centers. After-school clubs for children and youth make learning fun and educational, with more than 2,000 children benefiting. To encourage families to keep their children in school and out of child labor, the project awarded scholarships to cover the cost of uniforms and supplies for nearly 1,200 students, and nearly 800 mothers received entrepreneurial training to help them establish and manage small businesses to improve their household income to meet their children’s educational needs.