Accra, Oct. 22, GNA - Ghana's 2003-04 cocoa season, which ended on September 30, produced a record 736,000 metric tons, up from 497,000 metric tons last year, Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo said in Accra on Friday.
This year's figure supersedes the existing record of 580,000 metric tons produced in the 1964-65 season.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, who was opening the 2004 - 2005 cocoa season, said the 2003-04 record production, was induced by the responsiveness of the farmers to initiatives introduced by the Government in 2001 to revamp the industry.
Top among the Government's initiatives were the disease and pest control, and the hi-tech programmes, which also required the adoption and maintenance of appropriate farm husbandry practices. "Through these initiatives, farm husbandry practices in all the cocoa growing areas in the country have improved significantly in the past three years and, coupled with price incentives, there have been significant gains."
Production increased from 390,000 metric tons in 2000 - 2001 to 497,000 metric tons in 2002 - 2003.
Production figures available to the Ghana News Agency show that production in all six cocoa growing regions increased by between 65 per cent and 100 per cent in the 2003 - 2004 season.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said there had also been significant increases in foreign exchange earning from export and local sales of cocoa beans. For the first time, the country's earnings hit the one billion-dollar mark ($1.053 billion), up from 891.6 million dollars in the 2002 - 2003 season.
The high production this year has consolidated Ghana's position as the world's second largest cocoa producer after Cote d'Ivoire.