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03.08.2005 Regional News

Liberalisation should not lead to neglect of best practices-DCE


Nkawie (Ash.), Aug. 3, GNA - Cocoa farmers have been told not to allow the intense competition associated with the liberalisation of the internal marketing of cocoa to lead to neglect of best practices that had over the years helped Ghana to maintain the quality of its cocoa. Mr Thomas Ofori-Donkor, the District Chief Executive for Atwima-Nwabiagya, said it was important to stick to cultural practices that ensured that farmers took cocoa through proper fermentation, well massaged and thoroughly dried the beans, with the mouldy and flat ones sorted before sale, if the country is to be assured of continued payment of premium on its cocoa.

He was addressing a farmers' rally held at Nkawie on Wednesday by the Seed Production Unit (SPU) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD). It was designed to create a platform to discuss ways of raising output through planting of the hybrid cocoa.

Mr Ofori-Donkor said the emergence of the "purple beans" gave cause for concern and it was therefore incumbent on the farmers to assist find solution to the problem, widely believed to have come about because of improper fermentation of the beans.

He said whilst the government was doing all it could to make the cocoa industry more vibrant through interventions like the mass spraying of farms and the introduction of hi-tech fertilizers, the farmers should reciprocate and do their bit of the bargain by maintaining high standards.

The District Chief Executive suggested to them to form committees alongside the spraying gangs to monitor the mass spraying exercise in their communities.

Nana Owusu Ansah, Executive Director of the SPU, said to enable the farmers have enough of the hybrid cocoa to plant, the Unit has this year nursed Four million of the seedlings at its 26 cocoa stations throughout the country.

He cautioned against the practice where some of them pluck pods from either their own or other people's farms for planting and said, "This could never produce the desired results by way of crop yield and maturity period".

They should therefore ensure that they go in for the planting materials from only the SPU's seedling sites.

Nana Owusu Ansah also spoke against reports that some farmers break pods they buy from the Unit, remove and dry the beans for sale to the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) instead of planting them. He said since the pods were sold at a cheaper price, those engaged in that found it economically rewarding.

It was to help check this that the price was increased from 200 cedis a pod to 400 cedis, he said, pointing out that, with this, there would not be any incentive for anyone to buy in large quantities only to sell.

Nana Kwaku Nyarko, National Vice Chairman of the Ghana Cocoa Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association (GCCSFA), advised his colleague farmers to resist pressure put on them by the LBCs into selling cocoa that is not properly dried. "Let us not allow greed to ruin the cocoa industry, the mainstay of the country's economy", he added.