Next cocoa season to yield improved harvest
Ghana will see an improved harvest of about 400,000 tonnes of cocoa in the upcoming season, barring any unforeseen major catastrophe, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and other key players have predicted.
The board is also optimistic of hitting the half-a-million mark by the close of the 2004-2005 crop year, citing improved anti-smuggling strategies, good farm husbandry and farmer motivation as incentives.
"Given the stock of trees we have currently and the amount of plans and strategies we are adopting, we hope to lift production to about 400,000 tonnes next season towards the 500,000 mark in three seasons" a source told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra.
The 2002-2003 projections represent a marked improvement on the current season ending September 19, which is estimated to yield about 336,000 tonnes.
This is due to a poor lean crop season that fetched only about 14,000 tonnes as of August. The previous lean crop season produced 39,360 tonnes. This year's harvest is the poorest since 1996-1997 when production was 322,488 tonnes.
"This just ended lean crop season has been disappointingly low and it is our wish that we put it behind us quickly in order to move forward," the source said, adding that “the COCOBOD was implementing short, medium and long-term strategies, to achieve its target”.
It said the company has stepped up its swollen shoot disease control programme to complement the mass spraying campaign launched last year against black pod and capsid. “Fungal and other diseases destroyed about 30,000 tonnes of cocoa last year,” the source said.
The source said that the exercise was progressing steadily after initial problems mainly relating to logistics and co-ordination had been addressed.
''The farmers have been more diligent in clearing their plantations this season in anticipation of the spraying exercise.''
The GNA also learnt that the COCOBOD was collaborating with the Cocoa Research Institute (CRI) at Tafo to undertake a vigorous campaign to motivate farmers to adopt hi-tech methods of farming.
These include the application of special nutrients and fertilisers produced by the institute.
The government said at least, 60,000 tonnes of cocoa was smuggled to the Cote d’Ivoire, up from 50,000 tonnes smuggled in the previous crop year.
Key players have expressed concern about the spate of cocoa smuggling although government has consistently reviewed producer prices as one of numerous strategies to curb it.
The current price of ¢6.2 million per tonne was announced at the beginning of the 2001-2002 season, up from ¢4.3 million previously.
Ghana recorded the highest cocoa production of 580,869 tonnes from 1964 to 1965 crop year. The worst production period was 1983-1984 when total production slumped to 158,956 tonnes as a result of excessive drought.