Meet Martha, cocoa farmer in Ghana

Once Martha made decisions with her husband’s help. Now that he has passed, she must rely on herself.

Martha and her husband talked about everything and made all their decisions together. “We talked about the future of our children, how to expand our [cocoa] farming business and shared our aspirations in general.”

We discussed issues as and when they came up and sometimes my suggestions are taken, other times his are taken. The process was quite democratic.  
— Martha

A decade into their marriage, Martha’s husband died. Suddenly, Martha, 49, was on her own to run the couple’s cocoa farm and raise their five children, plus ten more who are distant relatives or community children in need.

At first, Martha struggled. Cocoa farming in Ghana had become extremely challenging as trees aged, pests and diseases did their damage, and production fell short. With the help of seasonal laborers, Martha kept the farm going, and was even awarded a prize as the most enterprising female cocoa farmer in Ghana. Still, the income was never enough.

“It was sometimes financially draining paying for [the children’s] school supplies and for their health,” said Martha.

Martha with Selasse looking at plans

Then Martha met Grameen Community Agent Selasse and learned about Grameen’s Digital Farming program. The program was built on the belief that cocoa farmers—if given advice and customized, geo-targeted information and training— could significantly increase their yields by applying good agricultural practices and making basic investments in their farms.

Even before his first visit to Martha’s farm, Selasse used satellite imagery to assess its environmental conditions, such as soil health, water availability, and plant condition. Then, using a digital tool developed by Grameen and its partners, Selasse gathered financial, production and other data from Martha to create her custom Farm Development Plan.

Smallholder farmer Martha examines soil with Grameen agent Selasse in Ghana

Martha is early into her plan, and still needs financing to fully follow it, but she is confident it is the best roadmap to give her children a better future and to realize her own dreams, which include “building a house, being the best cocoa farmer in my region and expanding my cocoa farming business.”

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