The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is to promote cocoa plantation development with an initial cultivation of a 10,000-hectre farm to encourage large scale cocoa farming business for higher national cocoa production.
Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, the Board Chair of COCOBOD, hinted when he addressed a grand durbar of cocoa farmers and other stakeholders of the cocoa industry to mark the 14th National Cocoa Day (NCD) celebration on Tuesday at the Jubilee Park in Sunyani.
The event on the theme “Sustainable Cocoa Production for Wealth and Health” climaxed the 2019 annual cocoa week celebration under the auspices of COCOBOD.
The NCD was instituted in 2005 by the government of ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor to create awareness of numerous health benefits of cocoa consumption and to usher in a new cocoa season.
Mr Owusu-Agyemang observed Ghana’s cocoa production had been in the hands of smallholder farmers over the years, saying the situation now was not helping for abundant yield to achieve national production targets.
He, therefore, announced, “it is the objective of the government to move the level of cocoa production to the glorious days when cocoa was the crop to cultivate”.
Mr Owusu-Agyemang announced that “the COCOBOD has resolved to continue to explore more market opportunities and partnerships in line with its policy of ensuring that at least 50 per cent of cocoa produced annually is processed locally to the tertiary level”.
He said already COCOBOD had made some strides as a little over 300,000 metric tonnes of cocoa was processed last year and assured that COCOBOD would continue to work to achieve more in that regard.
Mr Owusu-Agyemang therefore assured cocoa farmers and all stakeholders in the cocoa fraternity of COCOBOD’s unflinching support in the years to come, whilst helping the farmers to manage their farms profitably through the introduction of sound and pragmatic policies and initiatives.
Nana Adwoa Dokua, the Ambassador of the Ghana Chapter of Women in Chocolate and Cocoa (WINCC) and also a Board member of the COCOBOD encouraged women not to be content with assisting their husbands but must be bold to cultivate cocoa farms as individuals and groups.
She announced that a number of programmes were in place to assist female cocoa farmers and entice more women into cocoa farming.
Nana Dokua said as part of the first phase of those programmes to empower female farmers, “WINCC shall work with the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) and other non-governmental organisations to build reliable database on female cooperatives for direct assistance in the form of farm inputs and other logistics to reduce the hardships female farmers go through on their farms”.
Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, the National Chief Farmer and National President of Cocoa, Coffee and Shea Butter Association (COCOSHE) commended government for the introduction of the productivity enhancement programmes (PEPs), citing the national hand pollination programme had contributed significantly to boosting cocoa production in the country.
He expressed worry that the extent of evasion by the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD) “is currently a burden on all of us, our farms and livelihoods are being wiped off gradually by this plague, we need to support COCOBOD and government as we aggressively combat the spread of this menace”.