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Govt will ensure Ghana becomes world number one cocoa producer - Veep

By GNA

Vice President John Dramani Mahama has given the assurance that government would work around the clock to revamp the cocoa industry to regain her number one position in the world.

He said in the interim, government had engaged the services of 2000 youth to nurse improved cocoa seedlings to be supplied to farmers in the cocoa farming areas.

Vice President Mahama gave the assurance when he launched the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme in Goaso, in the Brong-Ahafo Region, on the theme: “Increased and Sustainable cocoa production for enhanced livelihood.”

The revamping programme, which started in 2011, is expected to continue to 2017, where most of the farmers would have recovered the production of the cash crop in the farming belts.

He said apart from improving on production levels, the rehabilitation programme would also provide jobs for the teeming youth of the country, who would be mostly engaged in production of seedlings, nurseries and even harvesting.

Vice President Mahama explained that the rehabilitation of the cocoa industry was part of government's programme to avoid the 'dutch' disease after the discovery and exploitation of oil in the jubilee fields of the western region.

“We are doing all these to ensure that even with the discovery and drilling of oil in the country we shall continue to support the cocoa industry, which had over the years been the backbone of our economy,” he added.

Mr Tony Fofie, Chief Executive of COCOABOD appealed to farmers to register and be provided with the best seedlings and technical know-how to increase production levels in their various locations.

He announced that government was also sourcing funds to introduce other economic tree species into cocoa farms, so that after harvesting the crop, the farmers could also benefit financially from those spices to keep them in all year round business.

Mr Fofie appealed to the cocoa farmers to allow for the destruction of the old and infected trees, as the replacement could yield maximum benefits for them in the coming years.