Business News of 2014-04-01

Cocoa farmers weep

Cocoa farmers in the Atwima Nwabiagya District of the Ashanti Region are dissatisfied with government’s seeming lack of commitment towards cocoa farming in the area.
The farmers say they could soon be forced out of business if government does not offer them better prices for their produce and restore the cocoa mass spraying and fertilizer subsidy programmes to its past glory.
The farmers complain the quantity of fertilizer provided them under the fertilizer subsidy programme is woefully inadequate. According to them, although cost of production has shot up drastically, government has proven reluctant to increase the price at which it purchases cocoa from them.
Some of the farmers at Amadum Adankwame, who spoke to Ultimate Radio, say they were suffering and constantly making losses year after year, and threatened that if government does not come to their aid, they were going to do the unthinkable. “We will rather burn the cocoa harvested here than sell it to government since we will still make losses any way.” The farmers threatened.
“Burning the cocoa here instead of selling may be better because the price is low and the journey to Cote D’Ivoire is very far. We have to let the government know that we are being cheated” a cocoa farmer fumed.
Another farmer who has a twenty acre farm said, “The mass spraying programme is very poor in this town. I have twenty acres of farm but I was only given five tea spoons. In this town, we have ten groups made up of nine farmers. But each group is given a one quarter of Confidor and one quarter of Akate Master.”
“We are losing interest in cocoa farming. We all know that government deducts something from cocoa proceeds to purchase the chemicals for us to spray our farms but it is just not enough. A group of farmers sometimes have to share one gallon of fertilizer. We end up getting nothing and we cannot even take care of our children,” a farmer complained.
A female cocoa farmer in the Amadum Adankwame community also lamented, “All my two children are at home because I have not been able to pay their fees. I used all the money to buy fertilizers for my farm and for the farm laborers who work for me. I want government to help us gain access to the subsidized chemicals.”
Some of the farmers also alleged that officials of the Cocobod were hoarding the products and selling it back to them at market rates. They suggested that government identified all farmers in the cocoa production areas and direct the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides with their names on it to be delivered directly to each farmer.