Business News of 2014-06-23

Project to boost capacity of cocoa farmers launched

A 14-million euro project, aimed at boosting the capacity of cocoa farmers to increase their crop yields significantly in four regions in the country, has been launched in Tema.

The Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) is aimed at supporting 40,000 cocoa farmers in the Western, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Central regions to boost production. Under the project, 20 Rural Service Centres (RSCs) will be set up in the beneficiary areas over the next four years.

Each centre is expected to serve 2,000 farmers and facilitate their access to the best agronomic practices, training, fertilisers, low interest credit, technology use and other inputs. The initiative, which started in October 2013 and will be implemented till December 2016, is being funded by The Netherlands Embassy with seven million euros.

Joint support

It is also being supported by six licensed cocoa buying companies (LBCs). They are COCOBOD, Cargill Ghana, Olam, Mondelez, Armajaro, Touton and ADM, which will also provide 7-million euros for the initiative.

Launching the project at the Cargill factory in Tema over the weekend, The Netherlands Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms Lilianne Ploumen, said the initiative was a great example of public-private sector cooperation, where public funds were used to leverage private funding.

She said boosting the capacity of cocoa farmers to increase their yields was not enough and that “it is also vital for farmers to get a fair price for their cocoa.” “That is why The Netherlands is also involved in other issues that hamper the development of a healthy cocoa sector such as price regulations and subsidies, transport and logistics.

“Through the programme, The Netherlands aims to help bring together the main actors in the cocoa sector to find innovative solution. “The project is bringing together chocolate producers, traders, non-governmental organisations, government, researchers and farmers to work together to find ways to create a more sustainable cocoa sector,” she said.

Project will be scaled up

The Managing Director of Solidaridad Ghana, Mr Isaac Gyamfi, said the project was anticipated to develop the entrepreneurial skills of cocoa farmers to see cocoa growing as a business.

He said after four years of successful implementation, the project would be scaled up with the support of COCOBOD, private LBCs, farmers associations and groups. The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Francis Oppong, said cocoa farmers were the bedrock of the economy, yet they appeared to be the most vulnerable link in the cocoa value chain.

“The average yield of a Ghanaian cocoa farmer is low compared with other major producing countries,” he said, explaining that low productivity led to low income and poverty among cocoa farmers.

“Low income means cocoa farmers lack the needed resources to invest in the requisite inputs to enhance productivity and achieve better livelihoods to educate their children,” he said. He was, therefore, optimistic that COCOBOD’s association with the project would help improve cocoa production and the living conditions of farmers.

Source: graphic.com
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