The Kuapa Kokoo Gender Programme was instituted in 1998 to address issues with gender inequality among members. According to a research report in 1996, women had low income because they owned small parcels of land; they invested more effort and time in the cocoa value chain but had the least benefit; and women produced better quality cocoa. During that period 26% of members of Kuapa were women. The programme was instituted to address the special needs of women members in the Union. The principal objectives of the Programme was to promote social, economic and political empowerment of women members; stimulate women’s economic activities; break the vicious cycle of poverty among women and vulnerable groups; cultivate the habit of savings among women; and improve women’s access to credit.
The gender programme is composed of the following activities, namely; Advocacy and Empowerment, Group Income-Generating activities, Adult Literacy and the Yam Project.
ADVOCACY AND EMPOWERMENT
This involves sensitizing Kuapa Kokoo members and their communities about the gender programme and the need to empower our women economically and politically. The women are given training on leadership skills as well as business and financial literacy. Training modules also include “good agronomic practices” (GAP). Kuapa’s achievements in the area of female empowerment are demonstrated by the composition of the current National Executive Council which has 6 female members which includes the second successive female president. There are 53 active women’s groups in 13 zones trained in alternative livelihoods activities to increase their income and well-being. Women’s share of the total population increased from 26% in 1998 to 33% in 2014.
ALTERNATIVE LIVELIHOOD PROJECT
This involves the provision of livelihood skill training to women groups, thus creating an alternative source of income to complement their earnings from cocoa. The project provides skills training in batik tie and dye, soap making, bread and pastries etc based on their preferences and availability of market. The project also provides tools and equipment necessary to set the women up to begin production. About two hundred (200) women have been trained in these skills and some have been able to use these acquired skills to generate income to support their families. This project is on-going and other activities such as rice and ginger are also being undertaken by some women groups.
ADULT LITERACY PROJECT
This project is aimed at providing basic literacy and numeracy skills to enhance the capacity of Kuapa Kokoo farmers, especially women. Anecdotal evidence from beneficiaries points to the fact that many learners feel more confident after completing the training and are more actively involved with Kuapa’s activities. Ophelia Awusutor of Aduyaakrom Zone said in an interview “My husband is a Purchasing Clerk. Attending the adult literacy has helped me to weigh and record cocoa. I can now help him purchase more cocoa for Kuapa”. So far, about four hundred and sixty two farmers (462) from thirteen (13) zones, and eight (8) societies have benefited from the adult literacy project. Seventy percent (70%) of the learners were females. The adult literacy pilot project has been evaluated and plans are on the way to extend it to other communities.
THE YAM PROJECT
The Kuapa Kokoo Yam Project (KKYP) is one of the additional livelihood activities for the farmers. This project was introduced in the year 2015. The objective of the project is to provide the farmers with additional source of income aside their cocoa farms. It was piloted in Sankore society through the Alliance for Action Project which was very successful with tremendous result. Afterwards, planting materials were supplied to Kuapa Kokoo members across the six regions of operation and these have also been successful. A total of eleven thousand seed yam have been supplied to twenty-seven (27) farmers so far. Varieties supplied include pona, dente, serwaa, nyamo, muchumudu and mamakomba. These farmers were trained on mounds making, planting, staking and other cultural practices related to yam production. Their fields have been inspected and are in the process of harvesting.
The yam project is now being coordinated by the Yam Project Management Team (which is composed of staff from the Gender, Environment and Research & Development Units) with technical support from the Yam Development Council. Twenty nine (29) women groups in ten (10) societies have been sensitized on the yam project. About three hundred women / farmers have so far registered their interest in the project and these are going to be used for the scale up in 2018. Each group will cultivate a common piece of land which will be used as a demonstration plot and for farmer field school. Every group member will also cultivate as many yam seeds as she can afford to cater for. About 300,000 seeds have been requested by these women groups. The seeds for this year are expected to be obtained from those who planted in 2017 under the Alliance for Action project and Kuapa.
Training on land selection, mounds making, staking, etc has been organized for the Internal Control Officers. They will then train the various women groups on these topics prior to the planting of the yam this year.