“Our cocoa wasn’t yielding much before so when the children needed money for school, it was hard. But since we’ve all been following the pest control training program, the difficulties that we were having with our finances have been reduced. Now that my workload has reduced, anything [my children] need me for, I am here. I can spend more time with them.” – Agnes Quaye, Ghana
Modern agriculture has enabled countries throughout the world to increase their yields in an environmentally sustainable way. Through higher profits with less manpower, farmers are able to improve their quality of life and keep their children in school.
In West Africa, for instance, where 70% of the world cocoa supply is grown, farmers are working to fight pests and disease which currently destroy 30-40% of their cocoa crops every year. A new joint program from CropLife Africa Middle East and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has enabled farmers to reduce this loss and increase their income through the responsible use of crop protection products. Lawrence Owusu, a farm leader involved in the program, stated “Farming, especially in the cocoa area, has been improved…people are getting a profit.”
Through the program, growers in Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are being trained to become Spray Service Providers (SSPs) for their communities. Each SSP will help identify pests, provide pest management advice, and apply crop protection products as needed on cocoa farms. Since the program’s inception in 2013, over 3,000 SSPs have been trained to help 50,000 farmers. The SSP program is part of the wider African Cocoa Initiative, a partnership between WCF and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has a goal to increase productivity by 100% for 100,000 cocoa farm households and raise their incomes by 150-200% by 2016.
West African farmers are already reporting higher incomes and an improved ability to afford healthcare and education for their children. Cecilia Pokuaa, a cocoa farmer who now works with an SSP, stated, “It’s so beneficial that we can afford to send our children to school.” Programs, such as this one, are essential to bringing modern agricultural techniques to developing nations and ensuring that farmers use pesticides properly while minimizing environmental impact. Together, we can share knowledge and proven techniques so that no one goes hungry or cannot afford education or healthcare.
 World Cocoa Foundation, http://worldcocoafoundation.org/about-cocoa/challenges/.