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03.10.2008 Social News

Gov`t assists cocoa farmers with insecticide bed nets

By Albert Nana Asante, Dunkwa - Ghanaian Chronicle

GOVERNMENT HAS assisted the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) procure and supply one million insecticide treated mosquito bed nets, to cocoa farmers throughout the country, at no cost to them.

Cocobod is also in the process of supplying solar streetlights to selected cocoa growing areas.

President John Agyekum Kufuor, who disclosed these at the Fourth Cocoa Producers' Alliance (COPAL) Cocoa Day celebration at Dunkwa on Offin, in the Central Region on Wednesday, added that Cocobod would also extend the solar streetlights programme, to some non-cocoa producing areas, in the three northern regions of the country.

COPAL is an intergovernmental organisation, instituted in January 1962 by representatives of cocoa producing countries, and currently has ten member countries. The member countries of the Alliance, account for approximately 75% of total world cocoa production.

He said government had, over the past seven years, assisted Cocobod to put the cocoa farmer's welfare at the centre of its activities, adding “this was informed by our belief that when cocoa farmers' welfare is adequately taken care of, all other stakeholders in the cocoa sector will also receive their just rewards.”

President Kufuor said cocoa contributed significantly to foreign exchange earnings, and tax revenue for the provision of socio economic infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads.

“It is in this vein, that since my government came into office, we have not relented in our quest to give the industry all the necessary support, it needs to strengthen its position as an active player in national development,” he maintained, and encouraged Cocobod to initiate various policy measures, which had resulted in a major boost in all spheres of the industry.”

In line with government's policy to process at least 40% of cocoa production locally, Cocobod had been asisted to initiate the necessary steps, to attract investments into the sector, and this, he added, had resulted in the establishment of a 60,000 tonnes capacity cocoa processing plant by Cargill, in Tema.

He disclosed that ADM, another processing company based in the USA, is also in the process of establishing a plant in Kumasi, and added that “by the middle of next year, when the ADM plant becomes operational, our local processing capacity will be about 380,000 tonnes, more that 50 % of current production levels.”

He, therefore, urged farmers and other stakeholders, to vote for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the coming general elections, to enable it continue to support them.

The Chief Executive of Cocobod, Mr. Isaac Osei, said there was growing evidence that chemicals in cocoa could provide massive medicinal benefits to the human body.

He said being the country that produced the best quality cocoa in the world, and currently ranked second in terms of volume of production, Ghanaians deserve to reap maximum benefits from cocoa, not only through its exports, but also its consumption.

He warned cocoa farmers that under no circumstance should agro-chemicals, not approved by Cocobod, be applied on cocoa.

The acting President of the Dunkwa Traditional Area, Nana Kwame Kuma II, said he was not surprised that the day was celebrated at Dunkwa, since the area contributed a lot to the cocoa production of the country, and expressed hope that Cocobod could achieve its medium term objective, of producing one million tonnes of cocoa.

The Secretary General of COPAL, Hope Sona Ebai, commended government for its commitment towards farmers, and challenged researchers, universities, and institutes of food technology, to come up with ways to integrate cocoa into our local dishes and recipes, so as to increase local consumption.

This year's celebration was on the theme “Consume more Cocoa for good health.”