Cocoa farmers at war with government
Cocoa farmers in the country have slammed the government for its inability to increase the producer price of cocoa for the past three years.
They noted that the stagnant purchasing price of the cocoa beans for about three years now, had crippled them and making them loss a lot in their profession.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Best Cocoa Farmer, Nana Yaw Adjei made these observations during the launching of the National Cocoa Farmers Newspaper at Koforidua.
He said the purchasing price for cocoa, which has remained stagnant for the past three years, was making them loss a lot since farm inputs, chemicals as well as cost of transportation keeps increasing and affecting them dearly.
”We keep on hearing every year that the government has increased workers salaries with immediate effect when an announcement is made. But we don't hear that government has increase with immediate effect, the purchasing price for cocoa for the past three years now” he stated which drew a laughter from the gathering.
Nana Yaw Adjei, on behalf of cocoa farmers, therefore appealed to the government to increase the purchasing price, supply them with necessary inputs as well as provide Chief Farmers with vehicles to enable them reach out to Farmers to educate them on how to raise their cocoa yield.
He also pleaded with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to improve their extension service system in cocoa growing areas.
Responding, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Mr. Isaac Osei stated that since the government target was to achieve a high production of cocoa beans to generate enough foreign exchange, it would continue to support farmers with inputs and other logistics to enable them produce.
“Let me assure you that all the inputs and logistic needed to produce the cocoa beans are available so rest assured as we will meet you soon and see how best to put them in good use”, he assured them.
According to him, since the government took over power, it has increased cocoa price several times to cushion farmers instead of 'burning' explaining that “For sometime now, the price has been stagnant on the world market because the international price has not gone up, but let me assure you that when it goes up, we shall surely increase it for you”, he explained.
However, Mr. Isaac Osei advised cocoa farmers to produce quality beans that would meet international standards to help raise the purchasing price on the world market.
In the 2004/2005 cocoa season, the product contributed 641,191 billion cedis to the country's economy as export duty while the export value of cocoa beans accounted to US 837 million dollars.
The Eastern Regional Minister Mr. Yaw Barimah was happy that large tracts of land, which previously carried cocoa but were being destroyed by cocoa swollen shoot disease, were being replanted with new resistant varieties in the Region.
The cocoa farmers' newspaper will be published twice yearly to coincide with the cocoa seasons and will present research findings in a simple illustrative format for easy reading and understanding.