We are currently facing hardship – Cocoa farmers call on govt to release locked-up cash

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Fri, 6 Aug 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Correspondence from Eastern region

The government of Ghana is doing so much for cocoa farmers but ironically, it is rather this time that farmers are experiencing real hardship, David Koomson, a cocoa farmer at Pramkese in the Kwaebibirem Municipality has averred.

The cocoa farmer who also operates a licensed buying company (LBC) at Pramkese indicated that from November 2020 to date (August 2021), cocoa farmers who have sold their beans to the LBCs nationwide have since not been paid their monies leaving most of them in economic hardship.

David Koomson who spoke to GhanaWeb at Pramkese narrated that “From November 2020 till now, most farmers have their money stuck at the sheds (LBCs); they have not been paid. It is the government that will pay that money but it has not paid it yet."

“At the beginning, when you ask the bigger (licenced buying) companies, they tell us that (Ghana Cocoa Board) has not released the money to them. That’s where we get our money from. That is the explanation they give us,” he added.

According to the 50-year-old David Koomson, he also has some an amount of money locked up and hopes that the government would soon release their monies for cocoa farmers to heave a sigh of relief.

“The challenge is that now money is not forthcoming. When other farmers bring their cocoa to this shed, we do not get money for them. Truly, from November to this day, farmers are in hardship. Till date, money of farmers are stuck with cocoa “krakyes” or sheds that have not been paid to them. The government has done well, but it is rather this year that farmers have been experiencing real hardship," he said.

“Honestly, the government helps cocoa farmers in diverse ways. It gives us insecticides to spray on our cocoa, it provides extension officers to guide us. Sometimes it provides us with fertiliser among others. So, for some time past we did not have any challenge. But just the past year, we started having challenges,” he further explained.

David Koomson owns three separate cocoa farms totalling 22 acres all situated in the Kwaebibrem Municipality. He employs a number of temporary farmhands plus he has three permanent workers who help him to till his 22-acre cocoa farm.

He told Ghanaweb’s McAnthony Dagyenga that cocoa farming is a difficult venture hence, needs people who are determined to be in this job.

The farmer said, “when you start farming, you will get no income from it until you have harvested it; and you will need to feed your workers and transport them each day to and from the farm.”

David Koomson stressed that there is a whole process of daunting work that a farmer would need to do on his or her cocoa farm until it is finally bagged and sold to the LBCs.

“After planting, when the cocoa crop is growing, you need to weed around it frequently, pruning, and spray insecticide regularly, these are all work around the cocoa. When it matures, you will now have to harvest, I cannot do the harvesting alone. I need to get labourers. You will get workers to help crack the pods for the fruits, wait for fermentation for six days, then you bring the seeds home to dry them for about a week before they will be well dried.

“So, from planting to drying, you will not generate any income from it. You have to foot all these bills on your own before when seeds are bought you can make money from it. This makes cocoa farming difficult,” he explained.

Despite all these discouraging processes, David Koomson courted Ghanaian youth to venture into cocoa farming, saying that, without their involvement, cocoa production may become extinct in the near future.

“At the moment, most of the elderly persons into cocoa farming are getting older and weaker, so if the youth do not get into cocoa farming, it will dwindle cocoa production in Ghana."

“It is the same work our forefathers did to cater for us. I encourage the youth to get into cocoa farming. Truly, it is a difficult venture but they can make more money from it,” he added.

He advocated for Ghanaian scholars to look at inventing technologies that would make cocoa farming and cocoa processing an attractive venture for the youth.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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