During the three-week lockdown in Accra and Kumasi in April, the Cocoa Abrabopa Association took a long hard look at our outreach and response to staff, members, and customers. We closely follow the advice provided and restrictions put in place by the government of Ghana.
No recorded cases
At this moment, there is no recorded COVID-19 case within the CAA supply chain that we are aware of. We hope, of course, that it will stay that way. Most cases are in the Greater Accra region, the Kumasi municipality, and Obuasi Township. Fortunately for us, none of our members reside there.
In the past months, the CAA has been in constant communication with field staff. We listen to feedback from farmers regarding COVID-19. This feedback is worked into our “farmer training sessions” to ensure that our members are properly informed and stick to the safety guidelines. One of the biggest risks we foresee in the coming months is that our farmers may not have access to the medical supplies they need to help prevent COVID-19. We are currently looking for ways to prevent this.
Our work will continue wherever possible. The CAA will soon carry out its yearly registration of members in the field and our farmers need their fertilisers and other crop protection products, as well as farm demonstrations on how to use them properly. From May onwards, the annual internal audit for certification will have to be carried out. In June, we will have our annual shade tree distribution and planting exercise. In addition to these main activities, we will continue to organise training sessions, sensitisation activities, and other extension activities.
We have agreed that field staff will work only within their own operational areas. All non-essential business travel has been suspended or cancelled. Field visits by managers or any staff from the office must be approved by the Executive Secretary. All field staff members have received hand sanitisers and face masks to be used during work. All staff and management, as well as their dependents, have been granted Private Health Insurance.
Field staff must avoid farmer and cluster meetings featuring more than 25 people. It is even advised to avoid meetings with more than 5 farmers at a time, even with all social distancing protocols in mind. In addition, a text message on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been sent to all CAA farmers with active phone numbers.
The office is now working with a rotation system, with some people working from home and others at the office. This ensures that social distancing guidelines can be met at all times. Some staff members received laptops set up to work from home by using digital channels such as Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, email, and Conference Call. The office itself has been fumigated and is frequently cleaned, with special care for doors, door handles, toilets, the canteen, and other places in order to avoid contamination. Alcohol-based sanitisers have been placed at key points in the CAA office. Temperature checks are done at the main CAA entrance by the security guards to screen for anyone who may have a fever.
Unfortunately, we must announce that the AGM planned for the end of the year will not take place. This difficult decision has been taken by the CAA Council because we cannot guarantee the safety of all our members. Normally, thousands of our members would have flocked to the AGM, using public transportation to meet at a central location in the country. All elected Council members agreed to continue with their important roles and duties as the farmer representatives of the association.
As we move forward…
CAA management provides continuous education on COVID-19 prevention and symptoms to staff and farmers. The CAA, just like any other person or organisation, cannot know how the pandemic will develop in the coming weeks/months. That is why we are investigating opportunities to arrange and distribute additional medical supplies, including face masks for members. An improved mobile communication system (voice messaging and WhatsApp) will enable us to communicate with our members even if Ghana were to go into lockdown for a second time.