Ghana is likely to lose its spot as the top cocoa producer in Africa if the government does not show more commitment to improving the sector, that’s according to Dr. Francis Awotwe, the Dean of Students at the Bunso University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies.
He said the continued use of mercury soaked lands for cocoa cultivation may affect Ghana’s prestigious position on the world market.
An increase in illegal small-scale mining in mining communities has led to the destruction of cocoa farms with some cocoa farmers selling their lands to miners.
Majority of cocoa farmers in the country are also cutting down cocoa plantations for rubber and palm tree, which according to the farmers are more productive and lucrative.
In an interview with Citi News, however, Dr. Awotwe called on the government to develop policies to protect the over 60 million cocoa seedlings distributed to cocoa farmers.
“Cocoa farmers are aggrieved that they are not getting the best. I think that the government should be interested in protecting these seedlings that are bought with taxpayers monies. the other thing is that some farmers tell me that the soil they use is from galamsey lands. In the future, if it is detected in our cocoa beans that some of the mercury they use have accumulated in our beans, you can imagine the huge economic implications if our beans are rejected on the international market.”
“If Ghana is producing 60 million cocoa seedlings for distribution to farmers, the Government should be interested in protecting these seedlings so that they can mature to increase cocoa production annually. But that doesn’t seem to be what is happening. We know that cocoa farmers are complaining and cutting down their cocoa for rubber and other production, he noted.
Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) recently signed a new 3-year receivables-backed trade finance facility of US$300m.
The Facility will be used to refinance Cocoa Bills raised by Bank of Ghana on behalf of COCOBOD and or to finance production enhancement programmes.
COCOBOD accuses Mahama of ‘running down’ cocoa sector for political gains
COCOBOD has chided former President John Mahama for what it describes as a deliberate attempt to always “make false statements about COCOBOD and the cocoa industry”.
COCOBOD in a press statement copied to Citi Business News accused Mr. Mahama of trying to destroy the cocoa industry for political expediency.
It stated that the development is unfortunate since the former president is in a good position to know all the facts surrounding the industry and how the current administration has helped stabilize the sector.
“The Management of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has observed with utter dismay the apparent propensity with which former President John Dramani Mahama, at the least chance, goes public to make false statements about COCOBOD and the cocoa industry. Management considers his actions as deliberate and for political expediency, and Management believes so because he is adamant about the time and pains that Management has repeatedly taken to explain or debunk old issues and old misinformation”,portions of the statement mentioned.
Government ‘cheating’ cocoa farmers for maintaining producer price – Minority
Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has chastised the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for maintaining the producer price of cocoa for farmers across the country.
The group has accused the government of failing cocoa farmers who contribute so much to the economy by choosing “an unrealistic exchange rate” for the farmers.
A claim, manager in charge of the Ghana Cocoa Board CEO’s office, Fiifi Boafo, has refuted.