Business News of 2014-06-08

Ageing cocoa farmers worrying – COCOBOD CEO

Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board says the reluctance of the youth to go into cocoa cultivation in the face of ageing cocoa farmers has led to serious concerns about the long-term sustainability of the cocoa supply chain.

At the inauguration of management committees for three subsidiaries, Dr. Opuni charged members to use their expertise to boost cocoa productivity so as to attract and sustain the interest of the youth in cocoa farming.

“The surest way to attract the youth into the industry is by ensuring that cocoa farming is lucrative and also offering the necessary support,” he said.

The three management committees inaugurated are for the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), Seed Production Unit (SPU), and Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) in Accra.

Dr. Opuni said the three subsidiaries are important to the vision of sustaining cocoa productivity. Average productivity is about 450 kilogrammes per hectare, and the vision is to increase this to 1,000 kilogrammes through best agronomic practices.

Dr. Opuni observed that the current yield level is low compared to Coted Ivoire and Indonesia, and attributed this trend to the high stock of aged trees, high population of aged farmers, diseases and pests, and farmers’ lack of access to credit and inputs.

“We need to confront these challenges militating against improving the productivity of cocoa farms, which places a huge task on CRIG, CHED and SPU,” he said.

He urged members of the management committees to support efforts made by the Cocobod management to formulate policies and guidelines that improve the productivity of cocoa farms.

“Members of CRIG must research into diseases and pests affecting cocoa trees and recommend a cost-effective means of addressing them.

“They should also pursue research into drought-tolerant, high-yielding and disease-resistant varieties, as well as deal with issues of chemical residue.

“The CRIG Management Committee will be expected to accelerate involvement of the private sector in commercialising new products developed from by-products of cocoa.

“I also urge the SPU management to develop a comprehensive programme to replace the tree stock of all the seed gardens with newly developed planting materials by CRIG.”

Dr. Opuni challenged the Management Committee of Cocoa Health Extension Division to support management of Cocobod to bridge the information gap between research and the cocoa farmers.

The members of CRIG Management Committee are being chaired by Dr. Daniel Adomako; the nine-member Management committee of the SPU has Dr. Kwabena Osei-Bonsu as Chairman, while the ten-member Committee of CHED is chaired by Professor Ernest Okorley.

Source: B&FT
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