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Our gallant Cocoa Farmers and Stakeholders,
2020/2021 crop season has really been an exciting year. It is a year in which our cocoa farmers enjoyed the implementation of the Living Income Differential (LID), resulting in an unparalleled rise in cocoa producer price from Gh¢515 per bag to Gh¢660, representing 28% increase. That was a big relief of pressure from the international market on producer prices.
It is a year that we have had to battle a very weighty global challenge as the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic aggravated thereby impeding local and international business transactions.
Same crop year, the global financial system suffered a major meltdown raising high uncertainties and giving room for speculation of imminent collapse of the cocoa economy. Ports were virtually closed, world market prices of cocoa plummeted, and most confectionery shops across the globe shut down.
The challenges notwithstanding, it gives me great joy that we have all discharged our responsibilities to the best of our abilities. At the close of the 2020/21 crop year, sealed cocoa beans purchased stood at one million and forty-five thousand metric tonnes (1,045,500mt), breaking the 10-year-old record of 1,024,526mt set in the 2010/2011 crop year. I, therefore, use this year’s Cocoa Day to commend every stakeholder in the cocoa supply chain for their hard work, dedication, and the passion with which each and every one has discharged his or her duty worked towards sustaining the industry.
It is with much pride that I acknowledge our hardworking farmers who have adhered to good extension and agronomic practices and adopted our productivity enhancement programs (PEPs) including the Mass Pruning, Hand Pollination, Irrigation, a new regime of Fertilizer application and Mass Spraying Exercises to increase the average yield per hectare from 450kg to 1,000kg - a journey which began some 5 years ago. What is even more intriguing is the fact that productivity has increased relative to reduction in land size caused by peri-urbanization, Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease, illegal mining among other factors. The increase in productivity recorded this year should motivate us to stick to cocoa farming and stop ceding our cocoa farms to other ‘competing land uses’ particularly illegal mining.
The fact is that we have proven that it is possible to increase productivity per hectare significantly without necessarily expanding the area of cultivation. Let us continue in this vertical approach to growing cocoa to make the best use of land and to preserve our forests and the ecosystem. I wish also to indicate that our resolve at ensuring that cocoa farmers enjoy decent reward for their endless hours of labour is yielding the desired results as the 2021/22 crop year will witness two additional novel initiatives. All is set for electronic scales to be used to weigh cocoa beans at all buying centres across the country to prevent the long-standing scale manipulation menace usually perpetuated by Purchasing Clerks (PCs). These machines cannot be tampered with by PCs and will therefore guarantee value for money.
Again, we have been very successful with a recent pilot phase of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme which involved some 2,800 volunteer farmers in the New Edubiase District of the Ashanti Region where most cocoa farmers have registered with the Cocoa Management System (CMS). I wish to disclose that the much-anticipated Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme starts on 1st October 2021 in the Western South and Ashanti Regions. The Pension scheme will help our farmers to enjoy a decent pension when they retire from active farming. I urge all farmers to cooperate with the CMS officials and make every effort to register for the Cocoa Card to enable them to access the Scheme.
Let me also assure you that the Living Income Differential (LID) has come to stay. We have the support of major international stakeholders including the European Union, International Cocoa Organization and the World Cocoa Foundation. We will continue to enforce it with our trading partners. We will also scale up especially the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme and intensify our PEPs so that we can maintain our efforts at securing a brighter future for the cocoa sector.
As you all may be aware, we have successfully secured US$1.5 billion Receivables Backed Pre-Export Trade Finance Facility to enable us to purchase the projected volumes of cocoa beans for the 2021/22 crop year and we are hopeful that we will be able to buy cocoa on time and pay farmers promptly.
Finally, as we celebrate a victorious year, I think we all deserve a pat on the shoulder for rallying around Management of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for the progress made.
I wish to express my profound gratitude to the Minister of Food & Agriculture, Board of Directors, our financial partners, gallant cocoa farmers, staff of COCOBOD, LBCs, hauliers, agro-input dealers, NGOs in the cocoa sector, as well as all other unsung stakeholders within the cocoa value chain for the historic feat attained.
I wish you all a productive year.
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