15.12.2004 Regional News

MP-elect calls for revitalization of Cocoa Industry

15.12.2004 LISTEN

Kadjebi (V/R), Dec. 15, GNA - The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP-Elect for the Akan Constituency, Mr John Kwadwo Gyapong, on Wednesday called for the revitalization of the cocoa industry with the heavy infusion of capital to reduce poverty and to ensure that the country regained its leading position in the production of the crop.

He said that was necessary because in the Kadjebi and Jasikan Districts known as Buem, which was an important cocoa growing area in the 1950s and the early 1960s had lost its position, Following an outbreak of a disease that hit farms in the area coupled with falling prices, farmers were discouraged from increasing output and deserted the area.

"The conditions of aged settler farmers, who had purchased or owned pieces of lands in the area became disheartened and abandoned their ruined farms leading to the deepening of poverty in greater parts of the northern parts of the Volta Region."

Mr. Gyapong appealed to farmers and their families who had abandoned their farms especially at Poase Cement, Ahamansu, Dodi Papase, Mpeyeo and Kadjebi to return and rehabilitate their farms. He said, with the introduction of high breed cocoa seedlings, establishment of service centres at Mpeyeo by the Cocobod, he would assist farmers who have abandoned their farms to rehabilitate them. "The cocoa industry in the past had served as a source of economic empowerment to farmers as well as huge a platform for employment, which contributed to the socio-economic development of the country," Mr Gyapong told the Ghana News Agency.

In an interview at Kadjebi, Mr. Gyapong expressed concern about the deterioration of the cocoa sector, which, he said, had forced many farmers to live in abject poverty.

He said, those who have left their lands have their buildings in a deplorable state and needed some form of capital or support to rehabilitate them and needed money to buy the improved seedlings for replanting, while some of them would need "food for work programmes." While the farmers are rehabilitating their farms, they could grow food crops for their sustenance, as was previously the case so that after one year or so of support the farmer could be self-sufficient in food crop production.

Mr. Gyapong also called for the modernisation, commercialisation and diversification of the cocoa industry.

He explained that the diversification strategy should take the form of support for development of specific industry and food crops such as root and tubers, fresh and processed fruits, cotton, cashew and vegetables for export, rice and plantain for domestic consumption The need for the expansion of the national capacity to process cocoa for export and the utilization of cocoa waste into by-products would not only lead to employment but a higher export earning.

"As a farmer and MP, I will champion the crusade for the promotion of integration of cocoa with the cultivation of other crops and increased domestic consumption of cocoa products."

He said developments on the world market showed that the country could not, in the medium to long-term, continue to rely on the export of raw cocoa beans "as our major foreign exchange earner." Mr. Gyapong appealed to all, who owned land in the Akan constituency, in particular and in Buem, generally, to come back to rehabilitate their farms for which he promised to be a facilitator. 15 Dec. 04