Kouassi Kouamé is part of the CAFHS Cooperative. Siriki Diakité hears his story.
Siriki Diakité: Hi Kouamé, how long have you worked with cocoa?
Kouassi Kouamé: I have always worked with cocoa. For 20 years already! My parents, my two brothers are cocoa farmers too. It’s what we do. I have two cocoa plantations of two hectares each. But aside from cocoa, I also grow vegetables: cabbages and tomatoes.
What do you like about the UTZ program?
What I like most is the field schools. We do a lot there. I learnt about the best way to prune the cocoa tree, leaving only two or three main stems and removing dead branches. This and other things I learnt there showed me how to work to get good productivity, and it’s through this productivity that I am able to get a higher income and make other achievements.
Have there been any other changes?
Before, we planted the regular cocoa, the Ghana variety, which had low productivity. And we used to plant it all over the place, in every direction. Now we use the CNRA variety, and we plant it in lines, and productivity is better.
The program also helped with safety. Before, we sprayed the pesticides ourselves without personal protection equipment. Now this is done by spraying teams from the cooperative, and only approved products sent by the cooperative are used.
What does all this mean for your family?
Thanks to the UTZ program, I make profits. This helped me build my house and send my children to school. My biggest source of satisfaction is my home.
I can also put money in a bank account and save up, then withdraw money when necessary. For example, this means that I can enroll my children in school on time. Before, the children sometimes returned to school late because we had to wait for new money to come in to get the children to school.