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19.09.2003 Business & Finance

Ghana now second largest cocoa producer

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Japekrom, (B/A) Sept. 18, GNA - Ghana has upped her cocoa production levels to more than 500,000 tonnes, an all time high since 1965 levels, thus lifting herself to become the second largest producer of the commodity.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Deputy Minister of Finance, who announced this, attributed the success in productivity mainly to the Mass Cocoa Spraying Programme, initiated by the government in 2001 to control the black pod and capsid diseases of the crop.

Mr Agyeman-Manu was addressing a durbar at Japekrom, a major cocoa growing area in the Jaman District, when he accompanied Vice President Aliu Mahama on his three-day tour of the Brong Ahafo Region.

The government, he said, was determined to pursue a consistent policy of increasing farmers' income, improved agronomic practices, pests and diseases control programme and increased value addition. Mr Agyeman-Manu, who recently attended the International Cocoa Organisation's Meeting in London, said the government was pleased that the spraying exercise, which received damnation from critics had had immense positive impact.

He announced plans to re-package the Akuafo Cheque System to eliminate fraud and prevent the use of counterfeit notes in the purchasing of cocoa. He said the Finance Ministry would ensure that community banks received adequate funds to honour cheques presented by farmers promptly.

Ghana, once the number producer of cocoa for many years, lost her position to Cote d'Ivoire, which is still the world's leader. Brazil, which is now the third, as well as Malaysia and Singapore all outpaced Ghana.

The Chief of Japekrom and those of the other cocoa growing areas lauded the mass spraying exercise being funded at more than 200 billion cedis this year, saying their yields had been boosted.

The outreach programme, took the Vice President and his team to Japekrom, Dormaa Ahenkro, Sankore, Berekum, Sampa, Achrensua, Goaso, Drobo, Mmehame and other communities where they explained various government policies to the people.

From a peak of 400,000 tonnes in the 1960s, Ghana's cocoa production plummeted to less than 200,000 tonnes in 1982/83 season as a result of severe drought, bushfires, poor management, diseases, and aging farmers working on aging farms.

Receipts from export of cocoa beans suffered drastically as a result of the domestic conditions and the slump in world market prices. Figures released by COCOBOD showed that receipts from cocoa beans declined from 323.8 million dollars in 1990 to the lowest level of 295 million dollars in 1994.

However, it picked up again in 1995 and hit another high of 541.59 million dollars in 1998, but slipped again to 379.95 million dollars in 2000. 18 Sept. 03

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