Professor Kwabena Asomanin Anaman, a political-economy lecturer at the University of Ghana, has urged government to strengthen the mass spraying and fertilizer distribution programme in order to increase cocoa income.
He also called for a depoliticisation of the programme and advocated the enrollment of farmer groups as well as vulnerable groups such as women o boost productivity.
Prof Anaman said this when he presented the findings of a report on the “Farmgate Pricing and Income of Cocoa Farmers” in Accra on Friday.
The research led by Prof Anaman and financed by SEND Ghana, a Civil Society Organisation with support from INKOTA netzwerk, was aimed at understanding how farmgate pricing affected the welfare of cocoa farmers.
In presenting the report, he noted that, the programme had had a significant impact in the production of cocoa since its introduction.
He said the report further noted that, an increase in the number of pesticides spraying and fertilizer distribution beyond the average one per farm per year could boost production further and lessen farmers’ burden by ensuring wealth creation.
“The mass spraying and fertilizers distribution programmes should be strengthened in terms of increased quantity and quality of services as the use of both spraying and fertilizers was shown to increase gross cocoa incomes,” he said.
“It, however ought to be used responsibly in order not to have negative effects on biodiversity, soil and health of farmers,” he cautioned.
He bemoaned the lack of participation by farmers in the determination of cocoa producer prices and called on stakeholders to review policies that governed the sector in order to ensure that the farmers had a substantial representation on the price review committee.
“Both the desk review and the farmer-survey analysis indicated relatively little role of farmers in the determination and setting of local cocoa producer price,” he said.
“The COCOBOD should strengthen its public education on the processes involved in the determination of local cocoa producer prices. This public education should involve more meetings with farmers through their district and regional representatives over a period of time before the announcement of official prices and expand the farmer representatives in the price review committee,” he added.
Other recommendations included strengthening surveillance and intelligence work to reduce considerably fraud related to adjustment of weighing scale by some purchasing clerks, publishing information related to the setting of the annual cocoa producer price.
He also encouraged COCOBOD and other agencies to ensure equitable distribution of resources and services for all cocoa farmers, regardless of their ethnic background and political party affiliation.