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06.12.2005 Regional News

Streamline COCOBOD scholarships, says Chief Farmer

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Dormaa-Akwamu (B/A), Dec 06, GNA - Nana Agyei Damoah, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Chief Farmer, has called on Ghana Cocoa Board to streamline its scholarship scheme to ensure that the facility would get to real target groups rather than non-farmers.

He expressed regret that the practice by cocoa farmers to give out their passbooks to friends and relatives, some of whom had never set their eyes on cocoa trees before, was assuming alarming proportions, resulting in the continued marginalisation of genuine applicants. Nana Damoah was speaking at the celebration of Farmers' Day at Dormaa-Akwamu in the Dormaa District during which 22 farmers were presented with awards.

"This negative practice does not only discourage cocoa farmers from seeking the scholarships but also makes them to lose confidence in the scheme", he said.

Nana Damoah noted that farmers involved in the practice were insensitive to the problems of their colleague cocoa farmers who often got frustrated.

He appealed to stakeholders in the scheme to support the Board's programmes to the benefit of those who deserve the facility. On bonuses to cocoa farmers, the Chief Farmer debunked claims by COCOBOD's Chief Executive that all farmers had been paid, saying about 30 percent of them were yet to receive such bonuses. Nana Damoah attributed the problem partially to the inefficiency of some cocoa buying companies and urged farmers to study the activities of such companies closely to avoid being taken for a ride.

Mr Yaw Ntow Ababio, MP for Dormaa East, urged the youth in the area to embrace agriculture and abandon their desire for non-existent white-collar jobs.

Squadron-Leader Benjamin Anane Asamoah (rtd), District Chief Executive, said the district assembly had taken delivery of 200 million cedis for disbursement to six women to expand their farms.

He said plans were also advanced to provide 500 youth with employable skills and financial support to enable them to engage in various agricultural projects.

Dr. A. Afriyie Kontor, the District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said his outfit and the assembly had put in place measures to avert a recurrence of the acute maize shortage experienced in the area early this year, which compelled many poultry farmers to sell their fowls at give-away prices.

"As a first measure, the assembly has secured an abandoned cocoa depot at Dormaa-Ahenkro for the storage of poultry feed and other poultry materials," he said.

He said the production of sunflower had gained grounds in the district with 156 farmers cultivating at least an acre each for a start. Forty-eight-year-old Oppong Atakora of Kotokrom, near Wamanafo, was adjudged the over-all best farmer in the district, while Mr Kwadwo Seidu of Kwaku-Anya, near Nkrankwanta, the best cocoa farmer.

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