The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is to pump $600 million into the cocoa sector to resuscitate it, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD announced on Tuesday.
He said the Board had almost finished negotiations to secure the credit facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to invest into the cocoa sector and increased national cocoa production.
Interacting with Journalists on the side-lines of his three-day field visit to some cocoa growing districts in the Brong-Ahafo region, Mr Aidoo said the money would be used to rehabilitate cocoa farms and undertake irrigation projects in some cocoa farms in the country.
The Chief Executive and other key and senior staff of the COCOBOD is embarking on a 10-day field visits to Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Northern Regions to interact with cocoa, cashew and coffee farmers, acquaint himself with their economic activities and the challenges facing the industry.
Mr Aidoo said more than 10,000 hectares of over-aged cocoa farm, which were yielding low pods, would be cut down and re-planted.
He observed that the cocoa sector was confronted with daunting challenges such as pests and disease infestations, land use, and illegal mining activities and because of that many cocoa farmers in Brong-Ahafo and Eastern regions had switched to cashew and rubber production respectively.
This, situation, Mr Aidoo noted, had reduced the country’s annual cocoa production, hovering around 745,000 metric tons.
That notwithstanding, the Chief Executive said COCOBOD had rolled out several interventions, including pollination, mass pruning exercise as well as deepened the cocoa mass spraying exercise to minimise pest infestation and insect attacks and to resuscitate the sector as well.
The Combine effect, Mr Aidoo added was to enhance productivity, which had moved farmers from yielding three or four bags to 20 bags on the same farm land.
He observed that the “cocoa industry was a sensitive area and any slightest thing which happened affected prices at the international level”, and appealed to the media to be extremely careful in reporting on the industry.
Mr Aidoo said the government was spending much in the production of cocoa, and advised the media to intensify the campaign against illegal mining activities which was contributing to gradual collapse of many cocoa farms.
“When the cocoa industry collapses, Ghana will collapse”, he said and underscored the need for the COCOBOD to invest huge resources into the sector to make it lucrative.
Mr Aidoo noted that farmers remained the weakest element in the cocoa value chain saying, when prices of cocoa fell, famers were the most vulnerable, and asked the media to be guarded and be circumspect in reporting in the sector.