Kweku is a 46 year old cocoa farmer living in the remote village of Brahabebome, in the western part of the Kakum Conservation area. He is a farmer, with his main crop being cocoa and the rest being maize, cassava, plantain, and vegetables. He just entered into the 3rd loan cycle, after having successfully finished the 2nd cycle on time.
He is married with two wives and has a total of 11 children, 10 of which are of school age, though most of them live in the town of Mankessim, a two-hour drive from Brahabebome.
He participated in the training provided by Microsfere in which he was taught cocoa farm maintenance, and gained knowledge in efficient methods of fertilizer application, pruning, pesticide application and integrated pest management. He stated that the training has been beneficial to him because his confidence in farming has increased. He has applied what he learnt and therefore he expects a better harvest this year.
He also participated to the apiculture and grass-cutter rearing training provided by Microsfere. Following that training he became very much interested in grass-cutter rearing and wishes to start this activity as soon as he is able to obtain some start-up funds.
He claims to have obtained various benefits through his participation in the Microsfere project: first of all, the loans make it possible for him to purchase farm inputs and increase his yields. This in turn implies that he no longer finds it difficult to pay his children’s school fees.
Kweku also admitted that formerly, he used to go to the forest to kill antelopes and other bush meat, and he also used to harvest snails. However, he no longer has to engage in these illegal activities because he has increased his farming yield and therefore his livelihood has improved. He is also a member of the forest protection volunteers assisting the Wildlife Division responsible for the Kakum Conservation Area management and conservation. As a volunteer, he assists in fence construction and hanging of pepper-impregnated cloths on people’s farms to prevent elephant raids. He also carries out forest boundary clearing and participates in antipoaching patrols.