At a ceremony held in Osogbo, Osun State in early March, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) formally launched the Cocoa Livelihoods Programme (CLP) in Nigeria. The programme, initially announced in February 2009, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 14 chocolate industry companies, is expected to significantly improve the livelihoods of nearly 30,000 cocoa farmers in Nigeria by 2014.
The work in Nigeria is part of a larger five-country programme targeting 200,000 cocoa-growing households across Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Liberia. The programme will be active in five states: Abia, Cross River, Edo, Ondo, and Osun.
Preparations are underway for the start of activities later in March. Representatives from state extension agencies and representatives of the respective cocoa-farming communities are learning how to facilitate farmer training sessions, work with farmer organisations, and manage these activities. March was also due to mark the beginning of farmer field schools, a key activity for the programme.
“Since the Nigeria Sustainable Cocoa Development Committee adopted the farmer field school approach a few years ago, we have been working to improve the state extensions agencies’ ability to reach farmers through this approach,” said Dr Sayyadi Ruma, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, “Experience has shown us that this is a very effective way for reaching cocoa farmers and we are excited about this opportunity to expand these efforts further.”
“Helping farmers grow more crops has little impact if you don’t also give them access to markets where they can sell them,” said Richard Rogers, programme officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This programme provides cocoa farmers with critical training and support, so they can increase their incomes and improve their lives.”