Farming With Gladys

The majority of Sefwis in our village are farmers. Some are subsistence farmers, farming only for the food they need to feed their families, and some farm for an income – such as cocoa farmers. Gladys ( pictured here) farms both to provide food for her family as well as a source of an income.

We followed Gladys for the day as she gathered the food she needed for Shabbat dinner and collected the cocoa beans that help her pay for her children’s school fees.

Ghana is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa. So, many of our friends in Sefwi Wiawso generate an income from harvesting cocoa and selling it to the government owned industry body (Cocobod) where it is exported for processing/refinement.

After picking the cocoa beans out of their pods, Gladys wraps the beans in large banana leaves and keeps them in the sun for several days. This is the fermenting process. After this, she takes the beans home and leaves them to try in the sun for several days.

As with many resource-rich/economically-poor countries, Ghana’s cocoa industry is a major economic driver but the profitability of the industry truly lies in the ability to refine the cocoa into consumer-based products (like chocolate). As it stands, this process takes place outside of Ghana and so too does a large share of the profit. The general sentiment is that cocoa farmers are pretty much at the bottom of the value chain when it comes to this industry. As one wise member of the community, Samuel Mintah put it: Ghanaians work hard to grow and harvest cocoa only to have the cocoa exported to wealthy countries, processed into chocolate, imported back to Ghana and sold to the very same people who grew it for a price they can’t afford.

Farming is tough. It’s physically demanding and at times it can be quite costly to manage the upkeep.

Gladys’ farm is a fair trek from her home and mostly uphill. There she grows the staple foods consumed in Ghana: cassava, yam, plantain and cocoa.