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Irrespective Of Cocoa Price Volatility We Will Not Leave Our Farmers Short-Changed -Prez. Assures

Published in politics Tuesday, 03 October 2017 10:33

 By Frank Amponsah

The President, Nana Akufo-Addo has indicated that he has since assuming office, worked closely with His Excellency AlassaneOuttara, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, to provide the necessary leadership for technical and political co-operation that would help both countries address effectively, the international cocoa price decline in the short-to-medium term.

 

President Akufo-Addo also reiterated the commitment of Government towards the improvement of the welfare of cocoa farmers when he indicated that the Minister for Food and Agriculture and COCOBOD will ensure that irrespective of the fact that there is over 40% drop in world cocoa prices, their price review for the coming season will not leave farmers short-changed.

According to him, they have been deliberating extensively on how to make far reaching policies towards achieving a shared vision of an industrialised and prosperous domestic cocoa economy to reduce their vulnerability to the volatility of the markets, and help deliver prosperity to farmers and the people.

The President gave this hope during the celebration of World Cocoa Day and the commemoration of the 70thanniversary Of Ghana Cocoa Board, yesterday, October 2, 2017 in Kumasi.

He said the prices of cocoa bean prices have fallen and have been forecast to remain low till the year 2020, hence affecting the fortunes of farmers, who have become tied to the volatile cocoa bean market.

“That is why the two largest producers of cocoa in the world, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, have now decided to co-operate in ensuring that we do not continue to be victims or pawns of a global cocoa industry that is dependent on the work of our farmers,” he said.

President Nana Akufo-Addo also enumerated that apart from price volatility, the cooca sector has also been facing challenges of diseases outbreaks which nearly collapsed the industry.

He however expressed optimism that the reintroduction of the Cocoa Diseases and Pest Control Programme (CODAPEC), or the mass cocoa spraying exercise, on 7th August, 2017, at Dansokrom in Sefwi Wiawso, together with the provision of subsidised fertilizer to farmers will regain the pride of place in the cocoa industry.

He said “Again, as part of measures to improve productivity, the Ministry of Finance no longer exercises oversight ministerial responsibility over the cocoa industry, which has been the previous practice. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is now responsible for all matters relating to the cocoa industry, a step which aids in the effective formulation of the relevant, coherent policies required for boosting agricultural productivity, including cocoa productivity.”

He stressed that both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire account for more than 60% of the world’s cocoa output whiles Ghana earned $2 billion from the sale of cocoa beans in 2015, and Cote d’Ivoire $3.75 billion, yet, the chocolate market was worth some $100 billion in 2015.

He explained that farmers whose toil and sweat produced 60% plus of the world’s cocoa, earned 5.75% of the global value of their activity, saying that “This cannot, and should not continue. It is manifest injustice. We have to devise ways of ensuring that our farmers reap much greater value from their toil. I have, amongst other measures, directed the Minister for Food and Agriculture to direct COCOBOD to work towards increasing domestic processing of cocoa up from the current levels to a minimum of 50% of annual production by 2020. This will significantly increase export revenues and foreign exchange earnings from cocoa. Processing of cocoa must also go beyond just grinding of the beans, to tertiary manufacturing for table consumption. Chocolate and cocoa products from Ghana should be accessible anywhere on the globe.”

Touching on the 1-District-1-Factory programme, the President mentioned that COCOBOD, and other private sector actors, will roll-out programmes that create small-scale cocoa processing industries across the cocoa-growing districts of our country, challenging the youth to take advantage of this opportunity. 

The export market, he also maintained, must not be the sole focus for increasing the processing of our cocoa but the health benefits of cocoa are also enormous to consider since Ghana produces the best cocoa, which has strong nutritional value.

“This should begin with inculcating the habit of consuming cocoa in our children. This will not only develop the taste for cocoa products, but will also help them stay healthier to contribute their quota towards the transformation of Ghana. It is for this reason that the Ministry of Agriculture through COCOBOD, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection through the School Feeding Programme, and the Ministry of Education through the Ghana Education Service are to ensure the sustained provision of cocoa beverages and chocolates to school children, from primary school up to secondary level. The target is to provide every Ghanaian student with a bar of chocolate or cocoa beverage each day, whilst in school. This programme has been given the needed impetus by some manufacturing companies, who have agreed to support the programme.”

“Indeed, government will make sure that producer prices paid to Ghanaian cocoa farmers remain unchanged, and will be in sync with those of Ivorian farmers. Government is also working on the cocoa pension scheme for cocoa farmers, the first of its kind in our history. This will not only benefit cocoa farmers, but all involved in the cocoa value chain,” he said, adding that the measures outlined will enable government attain a significant level of self-reliance, promote industrialisation and provide adequate cushion against the adverse effects of price shocks.

The President also averred that Cocoa production began its recovery in the 90s, and, from 2001 to 2003, the first three years in office of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, cocoa production nearly doubled over the figures witnessed in the 90s.

The policies the Kufuor-led NPP government, he mentioned, such as the mass cocoa spraying exercise, ensured that, as projected, by 2011, Ghana produced one million metric tons of cocoa. “Unfortunately, we have since gone downhill.” He said sadly.

 

He commended hardworking farmers for doing great things to ensure sustainability of Ghana’s Cocoa industry.

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