…Left Gov’t Employment To Farm
By Gifty Arthur
At a time when graduates from universities and other higher institutions of learning, have formed associations complaining of lack of white-collar jobs, a 42 year-old woman, has boldly quit her work as government worker, and taken up cocoa farming as her preferred option.
Leticia Yankah, has masters degree and calls herself, “business cocoa farmer” and does her cocoa farming at Dunkwa On-Offin, in the Central Region. She is described as an “Enterprising Young Cocoa Farmer” by Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
She is married with four children, and used to work as a civil servant, until after her interactions with cocoa farmers in the communities as part of her government work, captured her interest and started something for herself as a hobby. Leticia, subsequently left government employment to go into it full time.
She was speaking at a durbar of chiefs and cocoa farmers recently to mark this year’s National Chocolate Day (NCD) celebration at Krodua, a town in the Upper West Akyem District of the Eastern Region.
The programme was organized by COCOBOD and was themed, “Youth in Cocoa, Sustaining Cocoa Production”
Leticia, who looks very different from the everyday farmer she said she has a 14-acre land on which she farms cocoa.
She indicated that she looked that good, because all the things she consumes together with her family are fresh from her farm and that all her four children attend good schools, because she doesn’t lack anything after deciding to be a good farmer.
She argued, “Those who say farming is difficult are those who don’t follow teachings and instructions from agencies mandated to provide farmers with necessary information”.
She maintained that, the moment one follows instruction and applies the necessary farm inputs, one is likely to gain so much.
According to her, because she does what she is told all the time, she cultivates so much that sometimes, her neighbours accuse her of “witchcraft”.
She revealed, “The money I get from cocoa yearly is far more than what I used to get when I was working for government”.
The programme, used to educate and encourage the youth to go into cocoa farming, had the chief of the town, Nana Berma Kwame Anim II, give out a 500-acre land to interested young people to cultivate cocoa.
Speaking in turns, various award winning young cocoa farmers from different parts of the country, enumerated the benefits one stands to gain upon embracing call to young people to venture into that sector to earn a living.
The 2012 National Young Farmer recipient, Samuel Osei, from Assin Fosu also in the Central Region, recounted how his decision to go into farming begun. Mr. Osei, 35, started on a very small land, but now farms on a 42 acre land, with cocoa being the main crop he focuses on.
He said, owing to the many interventions put in place by government through Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) within a short period of time, he has managed to build for himself, a 7-bed room house, something he believes he couldn’t have done, if he had decided to do something else.
Mr. Osei, married with two children, said with all the monies he gets in a year, he sees himself “bigger than someone in an office”.
Aside his two children, he reveals he takes care of seven other children, and has managed to convince other young people to start their own farms, which they have heeded, upon seeing how successful he has become.
Following the 2012 Best Young Farmer, was Michael Acheampong, who farms in a village near Osino in the Eastern Region, winner of the 2014 award. Michael told the gathering he started at a very tender age of 20, and he is 34 years now.
With excitement and joy, he said the benefits he derives from cocoa farming are enormous bragging “by the time I will turn 40, money will be nothing to me”.
He also has two children and takes care of many others from the moneys he gets from his farm.
Michael pleaded with the youth “not to leave the work to the old”.
He said, when in the course of his work, it became very difficult to come by water, he drilled boreholes which he used on his farms, and make available to other farmers.
From a 7-acre land where he harvested 62 bags of cocoa, he now works on a 50-acre land and has persuaded some 500 youth to go into cocoa farming.
Last to speak to the gathering was now famous, Samuel Tobi, based in the Central Region, who President John Mahama, spent his third year anniversary with last year. The 37 year-old, won the award in 2013, and begins his submission by saying “the richest people in Ghana now are cocoa farmers”.
Though from the Volta Region, Samuel is based in Assin Fosu in the Central Region, and summarily tells the youth how he became a farmer after he failed to get admission into the training college, because his parents couldn’t afford the fees. He begun by growing tomatoes but in 2001, with 4 acres of land, decided to grow cocoa and now has 32 acres.
He has four children with the eldest in Senior High School (SHS). Samuel brags “my children go to school in very good cars just like children from so-called well to do homes”.
He has also built his own house, adding “if you want to be a friend of the president, go into cocoa farming”.
He has travelled all over, met with all those that matter in the sector, takes care of 10 other children in school, pays NHIS fees for other people and supports in many ways in the community he lives in.
The confident-looking Best Young Cocoa Famer, noted he plans to retire by age 47, but knows he would continue to enjoy the fruits of his labour.