Cocoa buying and processing company, Cargill, has held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Cargill Schools Project at Adjeikojo, a suburb of the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
The Project which is being executed in partnership with CARE International comprises the construction of three primary schools, two kindergarten blocks, and one junior high school block.
Six communities namely Fahiakobo, Lineso, Fojourkrom, Juabo, Afofiekrom all cocoa growing communities in the Western North Region and Adjei Kojo, a community near Cargill’s cocoa processing plant in Tema, will benefit from the project.
According to Care International, the beneficiary communities are among those with the most pressing educational needs as identified through ‘PROSPER’ – Cargill’s needs assessment project with CARE International.
The investment into the educational infrastructure for the communities is aimed at contributing to eliminating child labour as well as help address the educational needs of communities.
According to officials, the Cargill schools project when completed would provide access to education for about 700 children.
“We believe the best way to safeguard the future of cocoa is to improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of farmers, their families and the communities where they live,” said Aedo van der Weij, Managing Director of Cargill’s Ghana operation.
“Access to quality education is key to that goal, and we are laying the foundation for strong communities and helping to develop to develop the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and professional farmers,” he added.
He further explained that the choice of investment in school infrastructure was a decision by the communities themselves as captured by PROSPER.
On that score the Cargill Ghana boss noted, “this project exemplifies our commitment to listening to and supporting the communities where we operate – in this case by investing in education.”
“In this way we are partnering with local leaders to bring long-lasting, meaning change to cocoa growers and their families and create a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come,” van der Weij explained.
A deputy Minister of Education, Hon. Ntim Fordjour reiterated his outfit’s commitment to supporting the Cargill Schools building project and highlighted its readiness to deploy qualified teachers to the schools once the projects were complete.
“In this year’s budget, the government has further committed substantial investment into infrastructure expansion but the duty of serving humanity is when all come together particularly, the private sector, to augment the efforts of the government. And that is why I am particularly excited about Cargill’s initiative of investing into education,” Ntim Fordjour intimated.
“The best way to deploy CSR is to target education because that is where you are assured of yielding dividends which will come back to you. I salute the leadership of Cargill and challenge all others in the private sector to do the same and to up the scale,” he noted.
“In alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal 7, the opportunity for access to quality education for all has been created through this Cargill project and no one will be left behind,” the deputy Education Minister emphasised.
The plan to build the schools was first announced in 2019 by Cargill Inc. as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility.
This CSR initiative, officials explain, aligns with the Cargill Cocoa Promise, the company’s strategic plan to improve incomes and living standards of farmers and their communities while growing cocoa sustainably.
Other dignitaries present at the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony were Madam Frema Akosua Osei-Opare, the Ghanaian government Chief of Staff; Hon. Michael Okyere Baafi, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry; the US and Dutch Ambassadors to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan and Ron Strikker; Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, MP for Tema West, as well as dignitaries from some five Cargill project communities selected across the country.