Cocoa industry remains vital to economic growth – Netherlands Ambassador

Jeroen Verheul, Dutch Ambassador to Ghana

Mr Jeroen Verheul, Netherlands, Ambassador to Ghana, says the cocoa industry remains essential to boost the national economy.

He said it was time various stakeholders in the sector leveraged on the growing interest of the populace in cocoa products and created more jobs to grow the local economy to reduce the unemployment rate.

Ambassador Verheul said, Ghana as a country had the potential to increase its cocoa production significantly if it could invest in irrigation facilities on cocoa farms.

The Ambassador said this when he paid a visit to the Upper Denkyira East District (UDED) to assess the newly built Rural Service Centre (RSC) and understand how it was improving cocoa yields and employing women into the sector.

He also took time together with his team, Solidaridad and officials of COCOBOD to inspect some cocoa farmlands within the area to acquaint himself with what was happening on the ground.

He said with the increasing adverse effects of climate change on cocoa trees, it was imperative for stakeholders to step up efforts to extend irrigation to cocoa farms.

He underlined the need to link farmers to financial institutions to provide them irrigation facilities.

Ambassador Verheul said with flexible payment terms, the banks could recoup their monies and farmers would no longer suffer from effects of erratic rainfall and other climatic conditions.

With the establishment of RSCs to provide essential services to farmers, the Ambassador was of the view that cocoa farmers could produce more with the provision of irrigation facilities.

The RSC, established under the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II), was being implemented by Solidaridad and funded by the Dutch Government.

As part of the project, young entrepreneurs have established RSCs with support from Solidaridad as a private sector driven vehicle that provided training services, access to inputs and financing to smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and sustainability.

Mr Ebenezer Appiah Forson, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area said that demands from the centre was high and expressed gratitude to the leadership of Solidaridad for the pivotal role played in building it.

“Now the RSC has been able to coordinate the Cocoa farmers especially women and provided farm inputs for them,” he said.

The centre also served as an educational centre to farmers to aid the process of improving the cocoa sector.

Mr Forson pledged the Assembly’s commitment to collaborate with the team and assign officers to ensure that the office was always effective.

The DCE stated that more education was ongoing on the need for all cocoa growing communities in the country to embrace the National Cocoa farm Rehabilitation initiative that was recently launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in Sefwi Wiaso.

That initiative, being rolled out in cocoa communities, was aimed at first treating and re-establishing 37,000 hectares of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) infested farms in the Western North Region and later to other cocoa growing communities.

Source: GNA

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