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10.06.2005 Regional News

Farmers cry over cocoa hybrid seedling price hike


Upper Bobikuma (C/R), June 10, GNA - Cocoa farmers in the Agona District of the Central region have expressed concern about the price increase of hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Division CSSVD of the COCOBOD.

Nana Kwesi Otabil, Nksouhene of Upper Bobikuma speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Bobikuma said the seedlings were sold for 500 cedis each last year but had been increased to 1,000 cedis, which was too expensive. He said farmers whose farms were affected by the Swollen-shoot virus and were cut down wanted to replant them but could not afford the new price.

Nana Otabil who is also a prominent cocoa farmer noted that farmers from Agona Abodom, Kwamang, Bobikuma and Ajumako Ochiso travelled long distances to buy the seedlings. He said farmers would not afford to pay the new price because of labour and transportation cost, which could deter them to plant many seedlings this year's raining season.

According to Nana Otabil, when farmers complained about the price hike to the staff at the nursery centres, they said the price came from above and they could not do anything about it. He appealed to the Cocoa Swollen-Shoot Division of the COCOBOD to take steps to address the issue to enable farmers to plant more hybrid cocoa seedlings to increase yield.

When GNA contacted Mr Kusi-Appiah, Central Regional Manager of CSSVD, he denied that his outfit did not request seedlings from Seedlings Production Unit (SPU) of COCOBOD for the distribution to farmers in the area this year. He explained that CSSVD had not finished paying farmers whose cocoa trees were cut as a result of the swollen-shoot virus, adding that, the Division nationwide owed about 40 billion cedis to Cocoa farmers and said the price hike had come about because private people had ventured into the seedlings business.