Tarkwa (W/R) Aug. 12, GNA - Ghana has upped her cocoa production to an unprecedented record level of over 600,000 metric tonnes, thus breaking her previous 1965 record of 580,869 tonnes to maintain her new position as the world's second largest producer of the commodity after Cote d'Ivoire.
The declared purchase for the main crop season in 2003-2004 was 625,616 tonnes.
Vice President Aliu Mahama who announced this at Tarkwa when he paid a courtesy call on Osagyefo Kwamena Enimil VI, Omanhene of Wassa Fiase Traditional Council, attributed the feat mainly to the high-tech interventions, initiated by the government to increase production. The government in 2001 started a Mass Cocoa Spraying Programme to control two debilitating cocoa diseases - the black pod and capsid. Vice President Mahama stressed that the government was determined to pursue a consistent policy of increasing farmers' income, improved agronomic practices, pests and diseases control programme and increased value addition.
From last year, almost 600 billion cedis had been spent on mass spraying of farms throughout the country.
The income of cocoa farmers, Vice President Mahama said, had improved significantly as the price for a ton of cocoa increased from 3.475 million cedis in October 2000 to 9 million 000 cedis in October last year.
Bonuses to cocoa farmers had also been paid frequently with 78.6 billion cedis paid as total pre-season bonus in October 2003 alone. Vice President Mahama called on the chief as part of an outreach programme to three districts in the Western Region, during which he opened a homecoming summit for the region. He also commissioned development projects and interacted with the chiefs and people. The Western Region provides about 60 per cent of the nation's cocoa output.
According to the Ministry of Finance, a total of 371.2 kilometres of cocoa roads had been rehabilitated since 2001. This year alone, 30 billion cedis would be used to rehabilitate 115 kilometres of road, while 22 billion cedis is spent under the cocoa scholarship scheme.
Ghana, once the number one 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.
Cote d'Ivoire, whose production levels reached over two million tonnes before the political conflict, estimates to record about 1.2 million tonnes this season.
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, they 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. 12 Aug. 04