The producer price of cocoa in Ghana has been increased by 8.42 per cent, moving the price of a 62.5-kilogramme bag of the commodity from GH¢475 to GH¢515 for the 2019/2020 cocoa season.
“The government has decided to increase the price of cocoa by 8.42 per cent. Consequently, a tonne of cocoa will attract a price of GH¢8,240 and a bag of cocoa will attract a price of GH¢515,” a Minister of State at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr Nurah Gyeile, announced in Sunyani yesterday.
Dr Gyeile made the announcement at a grand durbar of cocoa farmers, chiefs, officials and staff of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a cross-section of people to climax activities marking the 2019 Cocoa Day held on the theme: “Sustainable cocoa production for wealth and health”.
He explained that with the adjustment, the price of cocoa had been increased by GH¢40 per bag and GH¢640 per tonne, adding that “with this price increase, the Ghanaian cocoa farmer now receives 72.27 per cent of the FOB price”.
World price of cocoa
Dr Gyeile said despite the fact that the world price of cocoa tumbled in 2018, Ghana decided to maintain the producer price of the commodity, instead of following the world market trend to reduce it, in order to keep faith with cocoa farmers.
He assured cocoa farmers that the government would continue with the Stabilisation Fund, with annual contributions from the FOB price, to mitigate risk against drastic falls in the prices of cocoa on the world market.
The minister indicated that even under pressure of making losses because of the behaviour of world cocoa prices, the government managed to sustain the price for Ghanaian farmers when all other countries reduced theirs.
He said even though the price had not improved so much on the world market, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo insisted the he would not let cocoa farmers down.
Dr Gyeile explained that the government, with the introduction of good policies, was ensuring that the cocoa farmer was cushioned until the price of the commodity on the world market got better again.
“With goodwill for Ghana’s cocoa farmers, the government has decided to continue to motivate the cocoa farmer by deciding to increase the price of cocoa,” he said.
Importance of cocoa
He said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture understood the important role cocoa played in the country’s economy and would, therefore, fully support COCOBOD in its quest to increase farmers’ access to extension officers to rehabilitate diseased and moribund farms and supply fertiliser and other inputs to enable them to increase their yields.
He advised the youth to take advantage of the various interventions being implemented by COCOBOD to consider cocoa farming as a business venture.
“The cocoa business has become lucrative, and with their ability to adopt modern farming technologies and adhere to good agronomic practices, there is no doubt that our youth represent the game changers in Ghana’s cocoa sector,” Dr Gyeile stated.
Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs)
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said in order to build a Ghana Beyond Aid, “we need to grow what we eat, eat what we grow and export the excess to create wealth”.
He stressed that given the numerous benefits of cocoa, COCOBOD had resolved to ensure that the cocoa industry took the lead in efforts at building a Ghana Beyond Aid.
Touching on the state of the cocoa sector when he took over affairs at COCOBOD, Mr Aidoo explained that productivity was below 400 kilogrammes per hectare and farmers were discouraged to invest in their cocoa farms.
He said in consultation with the government, COCOBOD decided to implement productivity enhancement programmes (PEPs), which included hand pollination, pruning, rehabilitation, irrigation, fertiliser application and disease and pest control.
“These have improved productivity of cocoa farms to current levels of 500 kilogrammes per hectare,” he stated, adding: “It is our objective to increase our productivity to at least 1,000 kilogrammes per hectare by 2021.”
Mr Aidoo said he was happy with the number of farmers who openly approached him and testified about how the mass pruning, hand pollination and other interventions had helped to boost their farm yields tremendously.
“What else could be more impressive than an increase from three bags of cocoa per acre to between 20 and 25 bags following the adoption of PEPs, especially the hand pollination? The feat, therefore, confirms that adherence to PEPs will invariably facilitate a sustainable increase in yields and improve farmer incomes,” he said.
In her welcome address, the Bono Regional Minister, Mrs Evelyn Ama Kumi-Richardson, said in terms of cocoa production, the region’s contribution to the national average production output (averaging 850,000 million tonnes) had been approximately 10.3 per cent over the past 10 years.
“From 1993 to 2018, the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Cocoa Region have produced 11 Best Cocoa Farmers,” she said, and gave an assurance that the area would continue to invest in the cocoa industry to boost the country’s economy.