Business News of 2014-08-26

Akuafo Adamfo to help farmers boost cocoa production

Akuafo Adamfo, a private cocoa purchasing company, has paid over one million Ghana cedis to 8,334 cocoa farmers at a ceremony in Bekwai in the Ashanti Region to promote sound farming practices.

The amount is aside the usual sum of money paid for cocoa purchases and other bonuses.

The payment, which translates as GH¢8.00 per bag of cocoa, was paid to farmers whose farms were under a certification process. Each of the farmers who are engaged in the certification procedure also received other items including machetes.

Certification is a standardised series of acts by which cocoa farmers are taught practices on sustainable agricultural and environmental practices. Farmers are taken through lessons on how to protect their farms and the environment and methods for increasing cocoa yields through proper application of fertiliser and insecticides.

Under certification, farmers are also instructed to refrain from using child labour on their farms and to desist from farming close to water sources. In addition, they are encouraged to keep fertilisers and other chemicals away from sleeping places and to always ensure to plant high yielding seedlings.

The practice of certification begun in 2012 and now has 8,334 members. It is a collaborative effort by Akuafo Adamfo, Solidaridad and Ecom.

Solidaridad works on creating sustainable supply chains from the producer to the consumer. The channel enables producers in developing countries to get good prices for their equally good products.

Ecom Agroindustrial Corporation Limited is a global commodity trading and processing company with a focus on coffee, cotton and cocoa and operates in major producing and consuming countries.

Addressing the farmers, the Managing Director of Akuafo Adamfo, Mr Antoine Boudib, said the poor cocoa season experienced last year “brought the economy on its knees because production volumes and international prices came down as smuggling went up. All these contributed to the sharp fall of the cedi.”

He said farmers partly held the answer to the depreciating cedi. He, therefore, urged them to follow sound farming practices in order to increase their production levels and earn more for themselves and also shore up the country’s foreign exchange earnings to boost the strength of the cedi.

He maintained that certification was also to ensure that farmers got double of the amount of cocoa from their farms. “This year alone the increased yield in Central and Ashanti regions have gone up by 18 per cent compared to last year,” he said.

Mr Boudib disclosed that his outfit had distributed 15,000 seedlings of shade trees to farmers to plant in order for climate change challenges to ease up. In addition, he said Akuafo Adamfo had distributed 45,000 cocoa pods for the establishment of nurseries to rejuvenate cocoa farms.

He announced that to forestall any outbreak of waterborne diseases, especially cholera, the company was drilling 13 boreholes in 13 communities in which the company operated, to ensure that farmers gained access to potable water.

The Global Sustainable Manager of ECOM, Mr Jason Green, who has nearly 30 years experience dealing in cocoa worldwide, described Ghana’s cocoa as the best in the world.

He said this had come about mainly due to good agronomical practices and the way cocoa beans were treated by farmers. He urged the farmers to continue to use the processes of certification on their farms.

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