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Chief says special security operation needed to check cocoa smuggling

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Togbega Kofi Ayisa V, Paramount Chief of Holuta, has said a national security operation with community collaboration was the only means to combat cocoa smuggling to neighbouring countries.

He indicated that this measure was essential as the nation-wrecking activity was increasing in different regions with its associated loss of revenue to the state.

Togbega Ayisa said this at the Volta Regional Cocoa Farmers Rally at Holuta, in the Ho Municipality, organised by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) Control Unit of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

He said the worrisome trend of using Holuta, Shia and Kpedze areas as shelters before the produce are conveyed by head potters through unmarked routes into Togo, must be curtailed.

Togbega Ayisa said the Volta Lake, the Afram Plains, Kpando Tornu, Gemini and Kpeve were recognised routes adopted by these smugglers.

He commended the personnel of Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) for intercepting about 10 tonnes of the commodity due for smuggling.

He blamed some purchasing clerks for neglecting their responsibilities.

The Reverend Abeka Ewusi, Executive Director of CSSVD, condemned the smuggling menace, which he said, needed multi-disciplinary approaches towards stemming the tide.

He said the government had identified pest and disease, CSSVD, the old age of farms and farmers, lack of extension education and smuggling major problems to tackle.

Rev. Ewusi announced that such a gesture by COCOBOD to rehabilitate and replant over-aged farms with hybrid seedlings and plantain suckers and to remove mistletoes would commence in October, in the Volta Region, all targeted at a million tonnes in 2012.

He urged cocoa farmers to form co-operatives to benefit from incentive packages and subsidized products including fertilizers, which is crucial to high yields.
Rev. Ewusi said the treatment for the swollen shoot disease or “Cocoa HIV/AIDS” remained the cutting of the tree and replanting, with associated financial packages.

Mr Alfred C. Nortey, Deputy Volta Regional Manager of CSSVD, said the reluctance of cocoa farmers to avail their diseased and aged farms for rehabilitation.

He debunked the assertion that producer prices in neighbouring countries were higher adding that quantifying all inputs in the production line including mass spraying and other incentive packages, made the over cost huge.

Ms Melody Atta, Eastern Regional Extension Officer of COCOBOD, said cocoa extension services have been reactivated by the government and its development partners and indicated that 200 officers had been engaged to pilot the services.

She said strategies, including sustainable livelihood from cocoa, additional sustainable livelihood, community-centred development and institutionalised engagements were being considered to increase yields and invigorate the cocoa industry.

Mr Mohammed Alhassan, Regional Manager Quality Control Division, urged cocoa farmers to apply only approved chemicals by the COCOBOD not to compromise the quality of the produce.

He called for a well-fermentation and coordinated regimes for guaranteed quality premium of the produce.

Mr Prosper Zegbla, Regional Manager, Produce Buying Company, (PBC) said only 268 bags of cocoa were realized last year with additional 150 bags seized from smugglers by officials of the CEPS.

Source: GNA

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