COCOA BOUNCES BACK TO LIFE: PRODUCTION UP FROM 750, 000 TO 900,000 TONNES IN TWO YEARS Featured

Cocoa has witnessed a massive revival under the Akufo-Addo government, with production increasing from a little over 750,000 metric tonnes to over 900,000 within the past two years. This follows the implementation of sound and innovative plans by managers of the sector.

Interestingly, this is happening at a time some farmers in the Ashanti and Western Regions are cutting down cocoa trees so they can do galamsey, others are cutting down trees to cultivate cashew in Brong-Ahafo, and still others are cutting down trees to cultivate rubber in the Eastern and Western Regions.

With the present achievements and the support measures in place, managers in the cocoa sector are optimistic that Ghana will achieve her five-year target of producing a million metric tonnes of cocoa even before the deadline.

According to Stephen Fiifi Boafo, manager at the office of the chief executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), achieving a million tonnes of cocoa beans will have a significant social and economic impact on the lives of rural farmers.

20,000 jobs

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Statesman, Mr Boafo explained that the current management was not happy with the continuous decline in production it met when it took over from the previous regime.

It therefore decided to implement an ongoing productivity enhancement programme, with hand pollination as the critical component, in addition to the mass spraying introduced under the government of John Agyekum Kufuor.

“We realised that there had been successful implementation of hand pollination at our seed gardens. Management therefore decided to implement it on the farms,” Mr Boafo said.

“In the first year, we employed and trained 10,000 young people to go to the farms of individual farmers to carry out that assignment free of charge. It was largely successful and so in the second year we employed 20,000 people.

“In the third year, we are going to employ 30,000 people.”

Mr Boafo added: “The good thing now is that because the farmers have realised the positive effect of the pollination exercise on their production volumes, they are now hiring the young people we have trained to do it for them.

“This means the cost will not be borne by the government any longer.”

No harm to forest

Meanwhile, COCOBOD is confident its programmes are well targeted to ensure that cocoa farming does not add to the problem of deforestation.

Some stakeholders have described cocoa farming as a major source of deforestation. But Joseph Boahen Aidoo, COCOBOD’s chief executive, disagrees.

Speaking at a meeting on the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) during the five-day visit to Ghana by the Prince of Wales, he explained that cocoa, as a forest crop, cannot cause deforestation on its own.

The Prince of Wales Foundation is spearheading the CFI. This was launched in London in March last year to undertake programmes which ensure that cocoa farming does not lead to destruction of the forest in producer countries.

Rehabilitation

Mr Aidoo identified low productivity as the main reason why farmers have been pushing to acquire more land to plant more and improve returns.

However, he explained that COCOBOD’s current productivity enhancement measures, such as hand pollination, mass pruning, early spraying and irrigation, have supplied a remedy for the problem.

“If the farmer is able to get more yield from the farm, why would the farmer want to acquire new land, not even to talk about forest reserves, to plant cocoa?” he asked.

The COCOBOD boss added that with the ongoing cocoa rehabilitation programme, farmers are no longer abandoning their diseased farms to acquire new land.

COCOBOD has been supplying forest trees to cocoa farms to serve as shade for the plants, Mr Aidoo also said. This, he believes, will go a long way to help boost carbon sequestration and also the cultivation of cocoa.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 20 March 2019 05:58

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