Business News of 2014-03-28

Cocoa farmers bemoan neglect by government

The National Treasurer for Concerned Cocoa Farmers Association, Nana Kojo Agyei has expressed disappointment with government and COCOBOD over the seeming collapse of the mass cocoa spraying exercise.

Nana Kojo Agyei says the association is also not happy about government's attitude towards the numerous challenges of the cocoa farmers, warning that government's stance could pose very serious consequences for the sector in the future.

“Government no longer seems interested in improving the conditions of farmers who produce one of Ghana’s foreign exchange earners,” Mr Agyei said. Nana Agyei mentioned poor subsidies on agrochemicals, failure in non-payment of farmers' bonuses and withdrawal of farming incentives as some of the challenges cocoa farmers face.

Nana Agyei bemoaned lack of interest on government’s side to support them leading to the current state of cocoa production in Ghana. “Years ago, I could harvest over 600 bags but now my harvest lingers around 200 bags and this would affect Ghana’s projections”, he lamented.

Nana Kojo Agyei called on government to revisit all the measures the previous government put in place to ensure higher yield of cocoa. However, a former employee of COCOBOD, William Adjapong Quaittoo, has revealed that government may stop mass cocoa spraying exercise which helps to increase yield in Ghana.

“Government does not have the capacity to continue the exercise and farmers will have to bear the full cost”, he said.

"Government could be blamed for the current low yield in cocoa as measures instituted by the previous government to boost production have been neglected. This is due to directives from World Bank and International Monetary Fund”, Mr Quaittoo said on Adom and Asempa FM.

Ghana reached its highest production with a little over 1,000,000 tonnes between 2010 and 2011 but the number has dwindled. Within the same period, La Cote d’Ivoire recorded more than 1,600,000 tonnes of cocoa though the figure dropped to about 1,400,000 tonnes last year.

Between 2012-13, Ghana’s cocoa production stood at 835, 456 metric tonnes as against a target of 830,000 metric tonnes. Corporate Affairs Director of Ghana COCOBOD, Noah Amenya has however denied the assertion that government is not supporting cocoa farmers.

According to him, government subsidizes agrochemicals, pays bonuses among other things that will motivate farmers. “If cocoa does well on the international market, government pays bonuses to farmers at the end of the year”, he said.

He therefore pleaded with cocoa farmers to bear with government as cocoa did not do well on the international market last year. Though La Cote d’Ivoire remains world’s number one cocoa producer, Noah Amenya maintained that surveys indicate that Ghana will do better this year than Cote d’Ivoire.

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