Cocoa farmers in the Gomoa Central District of the Central Region have lauded President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo led NPP government for distributing Free Cocoa seedlings to them describing it as their version of the Free SHS Policy.
This was after they received free cocoa seedlings to expand their farms through the collaborative effort between the Gomoa Central District Assembly, the Member of Parliament for Gomoa Central Constituency, Hon. Naana Eyiah and Ghana Cocoa Board ( Cocobod) at Gomoa Afransi.
According to the farmers, it was the first time in their farming career that Government of Ghana has extended such gestures to them.
"This kind gesture from Akufo-Addo and his Vice Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia led NPP Government is a Free SHS version for us as Cocoa Farmers.
"We will continue to be grateful to them for this financial relief, " Mr. Isaac Donkor, a Cocoa farmer at Otokukwa, a farming Community near Gomoa Afransi told journalist in an interview.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Naana Eyiah who is the Member of Parliament for Gomoa Central Constituency noted that the objective for Planting for Export and Rural Development was to empower people economically especially those in rural areas.
"This Programme is to alleviate poverty in deprived Communities. His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo led NPP Government seeks to improve the lives of the people in the rural Communities. Am extremely grateful that my constituents have embraced the policy to improve their standard of living. I will therefore entreat all and sundry to go into farming because it has become attractive.
"If today Gomoa Central is being counted among Cocoa growing Communities in Ghana, then we will continue to be grateful to NPP Government for making farming especially Cocoa, Coconut and Oil Plam cultivation attractive to the citizenry, " she intimated.
The Member of Parliament disclosed that she and the DCE were ever ready to offer every support within their reach to make Gomoa Central District food and cash crop market.
The District Chief Executive for Gomoa Central, Hon. Benjamin Kojo Otoo in an interview with newsmen said over 1,000 farmers in the District have been registered to receive the cocoa seedlings.
"As I speak 110,000 cocoa Seedlings and 6,000 Coconut Seedlings are ready to be supplied to the Farmers.Today, 350 Cocoa Farmers who have been certified by Cocoa Extension Service Division of Ghana Cocoa Cocobod will receive their Seedlings free of charge to expand their farms.
"This initiative is poverty alleviation through which His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo led NPP Government is using to cushion our gallant farmers economically.
"For instance, if a Seedling cost 50 Pesewas and a farmer is given 1,000 Seedlings free of charge, it means she or she will be Ghc 500.00 richer. If you look at the 350 farmers who are collecting their Seedlings today then you can imagine monies spent on them apart from the cost of nursing the Seedlings.
"While Government is spending a lot on Free SHS, farmers also ought to benefit from the national cake. This is the first time in Gomoa Central District that Free Cocoa Seedlings are been supplied to farmers. It has never happened before thanks to the quality leadership of H. E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and His Vice President Alhaji Muhammadu Bawumia, " she emphasised.
Hon. Kojo Otoo hinted that there were more to come to ensure that farmers in the area becomes economically self sufficient noting that oil palm seedlings were being nursed for free distribution to the farmers.
" Let me put on record that Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has assured the Assembly that rearing of animals will also take off soon in the District. It is our expectations that you will take proper care of the Seedlings so that we would also become part of the cocoa producing areas in Ghana, " he started.
Principal Technical Assistant of Cocoa Health and Extension Division of the Ghana Cocobod, Mr. Sylvester Ayanga encourages the farmers to follow the lay down rules of maintaining the seedlings adding, Government had spent huge sums of money on them.
He disclosed that enough education on how to plant the seedlings has been offered to the farmers expressing the hope that they would comply with the directives.
Mr. Sylvester Ayanga noted that beneficiary farms had been well measured saying the farmers have been taught the intervals between which each seedling was to be planted.
Present were Gomoa Central District Director of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Mr. Richard Marcus Odame and his Deputy, Mr. George Ayitey.