Cadbury, the world's leading confectionery company, says the global credit crunch will not affect its commitment to improving Ghanaian farmers' livelihoods and the development of their communities.
The company last year launched the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, a 45-million pound sterling initiative to secure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of farmers and their communities in Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean.
In Ghana, the partnership is investing 30 million pounds sterling over the next 10 years to secure the future of cocoa farmers and their communities.
Already, the partnership is active in 100 Ghanaian communities, which have identified their main development needs, including the construction of new school buildings or forming Cocoa Youth Clubs to encourage the next generation to remain with agriculture, particularly cocoa farming.
However, there are fears that the company may cut back on its support for the project due to the financial crisis.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, Mr Todd Stitzer, Chief Executive Officer of Cadbury, told journalists that such fears were unfounded.
“We are out to provide solid support to enhance the livelihoods of farmers and we shall do all within our power to ensure that our objective is met,” he said.
Mr Stitzer said he was impressed with the progress made by the partnership in its first year and expressed the hope that the company's work would help secure the lives of thousands of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
This year the partnership is focusing on improving farm income levels through best cocoa management practices and exploring carbon reduction techniques to secure more sustainable cocoa farming.
The initiative, which is being carried out in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other organisations such as CARE, Voluntary Services Organisation (VSO) and World Vision, is focusing on improving cocoa farmer incomes through increased yields and production of top quality beans, introducing new sources of rural income through microfinance and business support to kick start new rural businesses and introduce additional income streams such as growing other crops.
Other areas of support include investing in community-led development to improve life in cocoa communities, for example, supporting education through schools and libraries, supporting the environment through biodiversity projects, and building wells for clean and safe water.
Farmers, governments, NGOs and international agencies will work together to decide how the funding is spent and work with local organisations to turn plans into action.
Cadbury initially invested one million pounds in 2008 as a seed fund to establish the Partnership and annual funding levels are expected to rise to a steady rate of five million pounds over the next several years.