Ghana cocoa farmers to get free seedlings

Government is to provide free seedlings to cocoa farmers under a Rehabilitation Scheme of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) expected to be rolled out country-wide for the next planting season.

Under the scheme, COCOBOD is expected to plant new cocoa seedlings to replace the aged stock, particularly in Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Central and Ashanti Regions as well as replenish cocoa farms destroyed by bush fires.

Dr Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning announced this at the two-day Cocoa Farmer’s Forum in Accra on Tuesday.

The forum on the theme: “Contributing Towards Policy Formulation and Implementation” was under the auspices of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and European Union (EU).

Dr Duffuor said government was willing to offer the necessary support to deepen farmer-led actions to impact positively on cocoa production in the country.

He commended cocoa farmers for their contributions towards attaining the one million tonnes of cocoa production target for the country.

Dr Percival Yaw Kuranchi, Board Chairman of COCOBOD called for moderate celebration over the attainment of the record level of cocoa production, stressing there existed a production gap in the sector.

Though COCOBOD on August 18, announced the attainment of an unprecedented level of 1,004,194 metric tonnes for the on-going 2010/11 cocoa season, the Board Chairman insisted there existed the potential to exceed the current 450-500 kilogramme per hectare to that of 1,000 kilogrammes per hectare.

Dr Kuranchi said the challenge facing the country was how it could recapture and maintain its enviable previous record position of being the world’s largest producer of premium cocoa.

He was hopeful that the participants, largely farmers, would contribute towards addressing the challenges in the cocoa sector.

Mr Anthony Fofie, Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD pledged to recruit more youths in the scheme.

He called for adequate support to develop the cocoa industry, adding that even though Ghana had joined the oil-producing countries, agriculture was critical for her socio-economic development.

Source: GNA

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