Sustaining the cocoa industry
4/20/2012 11:34:30 PM -
I believe issues concerning cocoa which is the second largest foreign earner of the country after gold is very delicate and raises all ears when touched on.
Ghana's cocoa industry has been the backbone of the economy and supports the country in improving its infrastructure base with the foreign exchange earnings. But the production of cocoa with respect to its future is at stake. This is due to a number of reasons which includes the lack of interest in the occupation by the youth, poor road network in cocoa growing areas, access to social amenities and good infrastructure among others.
The child of the cocoa farmer who upon seeing the present condition of his or her parents being extremely poor is in no way motivated to continue with the work . These farmers who live in villages lack access to portable water and good road network. It is interesting to note that no scheme has implemented for these famers to raise loans or get money after they go on retirement when they grow old just like other workers.
Education in these cocoa growing areas is nothing to write home about. Some of their school buildings have barely received a face lift since they were put up. The HIPC fund was able to build some new schools but there is still much more to be done. Most of the structures are in such a dilapidated state that one would equate to a death trap. The teachers who teach in these areas have their own story to tell. These days, it is very difficult getting teachers to teach in these communities as a result of the lack of amenities. What about those who agree to stay in these communities and teach? Some of them stay just to save their meagre salary but their accommodation is such a misery especially the head teachers. Some also decide to reside in nearby towns which have social amenities but transportation is a problem. On market days, it is very difficult to get access to cars and even walk miles to get to a junction before they get a car. Is this how we will treat the people who are indirectly working to promote the cocoa industry? Let us not forget these things in the long run go a long way to affect the industry.
I would also want to touch on the cocoa scholarship. I strongly know that this scholarship is for the benefit of children of cocoa farmers. But what do we see? Children whose parents' have not even seen cocoa farms or beans not to talk of the children themselves are the ones enjoying these privileges. Is this right? Are we really being fair? The cocoa farmer complains that the money is not enough and we criticise and blame him for marrying many wives. But before we criticise him, let us ponder over these issue before we begin to criticise him.
Our politicians promise heaven and earth when they want our vote but on assuming office even forget the work with which they were voted into power. I think it is about time that our Member of Parliaments of various cocoa communities awake to the clarion and contribute the quota for which they were voted for. Very soon the elections will start and promises will come flooding our ears and this will go on and on till something is done to improve upon the welfare of the people who are working to earn hard currency for the country.
The youth need to change their mentality about the occupation as a preserve for the old. Most of them move from rural areas to urban to look for nonexistent white collar jobs. They should be made to understand and appreciate the fact that cocoa farming is another very profitable business venture that they can engage in.
The future of cocoa production continues to be at risk as long as ignore these realities on the ground. It therefore before behoves on all of us to come together to protect and sustain our precious and profitable sector. It is very interesting to acknowledge the fact that some organisations and established partnership group of companies are going a long way in working hard to boost the production of cocoa in diverse ways. With concerted efforts so far the country has achieved its dream of a million tonnages.
In sustaining this achievement and building on it, we do not change our mentality towards the industry and wake up to our responsibilities as a people and as leaders.
Harriet Serwaa Yeboah