Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has appealed to Chiefs and land owners in the country to make farmlands easily accessible to the youth who desire to go into cocoa farming.
Acting Deputy Director in-charge of the Cocoa Health Extension Division (CHED), Dr Nii Tackie-Otoo, explained this will encourage more young people to take up cocoa farming from the aged farmers.
He indicated that things do not look so good for the cocoa sector as a result of the lack of enough farmlands for cocoa farming.
“The future of cocoa production in Ghana is bleak considering the average age of cocoa farmers. COCOBOD is therefore grouping the youth to take over, but the challenge is the youth don’t have access to farmlands.
“We are therefore appealing to Chiefs and land owners to release farmlands to those who want to go into cocoa production,” Mr. Tackie-Otoo pleaded.
He also expressed regrets over the level of disinterest among the youth towards cocoa farming.
Out of an estimated 800,000 households engaged in cocoa production across the country, the aged with an average age of 55 years, constitute about 70 percent of cocoa farmers in the country.
Dr Tackie-Otoo who was speaking at the 2nd Cocoa Farmers’ dialogue series organised by the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) at Sefwi Anyinabrim, said the number of elderly farmers in the sector pose a threat to its sustainability.
He therefore stated that COCOBOD is instituting incentive packages to entice the youth in cocoa production.
Under the productivity enhancement programme, COCOBOD intends to irrigate cocoa farms to provide alternative and supplementary source of water.
Management is also exploring the use of technology-drones in disease detection on cocoa farms.
The Cocoa dialogue brought together journalists, farmers, civil society groups, government officials and agricultural experts to discuss and proffer solutions to challenges facing the cocoa sector.
President of GARDJA, Richmond Frimpong, said the trend of leaving cocoa production to the aged population is worrying.
“GARDJA has observed that, most farmers who are actively engaged in cocoa production have aged. This means that, if this trend continues, then Ghana may struggle in producing more cocoa in the next 10 to 20 years. There is therefore the need to incentivize the youth to take up cocoa farming”.
Some farmers complained about the high cost of fertilizer.
“The decision by government to stop the free distribution of fertilizer is laudable since most eligible farmers do not benefit from it. However, government should further reduce the price because farmers are not able to afford the current price of GH?80”, a cocoa farmer, Yakubu Usman, pleaded.
The farmers also called for increase in the price of bag of cocoa.