Cocoa is Ghana

Once again we have another opportunity to recognize and appreciate our gallant farmers who, for several years, have worked relentlessly to ensure regular supply of food to feed both the local and international markets. On behalf of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), I wish to extol and praise all farmers in Ghana especially, those in the cocoa, coffee, and shea nut fraternity for their hard work, dedication and continuous support towards the sustenance of our mandated crops over the past years.

It is with pride that I commend our cocoa farmers for their invaluable contributions and support in adopting the Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) rolled out by the Board towards improving farm productivity the past 2 years. We all have to commend ourselves again for working collectively towards sustaining the fortunes of the sector in this trying moment through the adoption of pragmatic policies and initiatives.

It is imperative to note that through our mutual efforts, we have achieved some progress in our PEPs. The overall effects of Fertilizer application, Mass Spraying, Hand Pollination, and other interventions we have been implementing have been remarkable. For the first time in the history of Ghana’s cocoa industry, Government and COCOBOD undertook a pilot mass cocoa pruning exercise covering 100,000 hectares of cocoa farms. The exercise has proven to be successful and effective in flower inducement, thus, increasing productivity. Government and COCOBOD will scale-up the mass pruning to cover all cocoa farms in 2019. It is our resolve to even introduce more innovative programmes and schemes to help farmers increase their productivity significantly.

In this regard, COCOBOD has re-structured its Mass Spraying Programme following a recommendation from the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) regarding bimodal population increase of cocoa pests (mirids). The spraying schedule which, for years, started in August each year, was started from March/April this year to allow for early spraying of farms to effectively control the mirids/capsids, anomis caterpillar infestation and P-devastans. The second spraying was carried out from September to October. This new arrangement is the first of its kind in several years and we commend our field staff and cocoa farmers for being very supportive in this respect. With this change, we are convinced that if cocoa farmers across the country collaborate with our extension officers, adhere to good agronomic practices (GAPs), and adopt the PEPs including the hand pollination, yield will significantly increase from the current average of 450kg per hectare to over 1,000kg.

Also, we have launched an aggressive programme to address the dangerous threat posed by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) in an effort to protect the incomes of farmers. With funding support from AfDB, Ghana and Cote D’ Ivoire, are embarking on a back-to-back approach to cut and rehabilitate some 680,000 and 100,000 hectares of diseased cocoa farms respectively over time. The good news for the Ghanaian cocoa farmer is that, a compensation package has been provided for every hectare of diseased farm cut and rehabilitated. We have so far enjoyed absolute support from our farmers and we urge others to voluntarily give their farms out for cutting.

Government and COCOBOD have formulated a 15-year Shea Development Strategy which will serve as the blueprint for implementation of programmes for the development of the Shea sector. Prospects are bright towards domestication of the shea plant. There has been remarkable success to shorten the gestation period of the shea plant to three years. For this reason, COCOBOD is embarking on an ambitious programme to establish shea plantation at Bole in 2019. This will change the economic situation in the three regions of the north.

As part of its efforts towards revamping of the shea sector, COCOBOD in 2018 established a shea office at Tamale. The year 2019 will see the establishment of an offices at Bolgatanga and Wa.

Government and COCOBOD produced and distributed 1,200,000 coffee seedling to farmers in 2018. Recognizing the effectiveness of clonal cuttings and the importance of modernizing the coffee landscape, Government and COCOBOD will supply 40,000 coffee clonal cuttings to farmers in 2019. We will also establish two new coffee wood gardens in the Eastern and Volta regions respectively.

Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire which control about 60% of the global cocoa stock are working closely to streamline research, production and marketing of cocoa to enable both countries reap the full benefits of trading in the crop. In this respect, Ghana Cocoa Board and Le Conseil du Café-Cacao of Cote d’Ivoire have agreed to implement common programmes to promote domestic processing and consumption of cocoa in their respective countries in a move towards achieving a target of processing at least 50% of cocoa produced locally and to boost local consumption. Ghana is also close to rolling out the inclusion of cocoa beverages in the School Feeding Programme where basic school children will be provided with chocolate drinks free of charge to help inculcate the habit of consuming cocoa among them and also to enable them develop lasting taste for cocoa as they grow up. We will need the support of all stakeholders as we successfully achieve this significant feat.

These initiatives being undertaken are geared towards a blissful future for cocoa farmers and the cocoa industry and we urge our stakeholders, especially our cherished cocoa farmers to rally behind us as we enhance the PEPs in the years ahead.

Finally, on this special 34th National Farmer’s Day Celebration, COCOBOD will again reward a number of cocoa and coffee farmers, as well shea nut pickers in different award categories at the national, regional and district levels for their distinguished contributions towards the sustenance of the three sub-sectors. We salute and say ‘Ayekoo’ to them. We believe the token will spur them to give off their best.