New Tafo (E/R), Oct. 15, GNA - The Eastern Regional Manager of the Cocoa Swollen Shoots Virus Division of Cocoa Board (CSSVD), Rev. Awudzi Abeka, has appealed to traditional authorities to educate cocoa farmers to allow their infested cocoa farms to be cut down for replanting.
He assured the affected farmers that, the government, in collaboration with the country's development partners, would pay the cocoa farmers 1,244,000 cedis per hectare, immediately they agreed for their infested cocoa tress to be cut down for replanting.
Rev. Abeka said the government would also give the farmers 1,632,000 cedis for the purchase of planting materials for replanting of the farm and again pay 1,244,000 cedis to the farmer for the maintenance of a hectare of the replanted farm for the first two years after which the farm would be expected to start yielding.
He was speaking at this year's Eastern Regional Cocoa Farmers and Workers Award, organized by the Produce Buying Company (PBC) at New Tafo on Wednesday.
The company awarded prizes to 30 Best District Cocoa Farmers including the Eastern Regional Minister, Dr Francis Osafo-Mensah, who was the best cocoa farmer for the Nkawkaw area.
Also, ten Best District Treasurers and ten Best District Marketing Clerks of the company were presented with various awards.
Mr Macman Firang of Nkwateng Society, near Ofoase, won the Regional Best Cocoa Farmer's award and was presented with two packets of roofing sheets, a pair of Wellington boots and four cutlasses.
Mr Isaka Osuman of the Nkawkaw Depot won the prize for the Regional Best Depot Headman, while Mr T. K. Gyekye Abankwa won the Regional Best Marketing Clerk award.
Rev Abeka explained that, if the affected cocoa farms were not cut down, the disease could infest other farms and the newly-planted farms in their environs which, he said, could even reduce the national yield despite the efforts being made to increase the cocoa yield.
Mr Abeka called on cocoa farmers to use the incomes from cocoa farms to build houses and purchase cars to drive for their sons to appreciate the economic benefits of cocoa farming and come back to the village to help them.
The Eastern Regional Manager of the Quality Control and Transport Unit of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Mr E. G. Essien, warned that poor fermentation and drying of the cocoa beans by farmers was negatively affecting the quality of Ghana's cocoa on the world market.
He warned that, if the trend continued, Ghana's cocoa beans would loose their value and negatively affect their marketing.
According to him, as a result of the current developments, his unit would intensify its quality control programme to ensure that all cocoa purchased by the purchasing clerks met the expected standard. The Deputy Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) Dr Kwabena Osei-Bonsu called on the cocoa farmers, who benefited from the use of the cocoa fertilizer to pay for it for others to also benefit from the scheme.
He urged the farmers to keep to the advice given them by the cocoa extension officers on the use of the cocoa fertilizer, if the desired result was to be achieved.
The Eastern Regional Chief Cocoa Farmer, Opanyin Kwabena Siaw called for the regulation and control of the activities of the cocoa purchasing companies noting, the desire of some of the companies to buy even wet cocoa beans, had caused the increase in the stealing of cocoa beans in most cocoa growing areas.
In his closing remarks, Nana Adusei Peasah, Tafohene, who chaired the function, called on cocoa farmers to maintain their farms well and increase their acreage now that the crop was gaining attractive price.