The Alliance for Development and Industrialisation (ADI), an advocacy group, has noted with great concern the decline in Ghana’s cocoa production over the past few years.
A statement issued by ADI in Accra yesterday said from a peak of one million tonnes achieved at the start of the decade, Ghana’s annual cocoa production had declined considerably.
This, according to the statement, has had a dire effect on the performance of the Ghanaian economy, especially at a time that the downturn in global market prices for gold and crude oil, have seriously constrained the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
“ADI is therefore calling on the newly established administration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo to regard the restoration of our hitherto cocoa production levels, and indeed improvements thereon as a major priority for policy reform and implementation going forward,” the statement said.
The statement said the drop in production could be attributed, among others, to the insufficient seedlings for the farmers.
According to the statement an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of the seedlings procured for distribution to cocoa farmers had not been supported with the requisite technical and financial support services that would have ensured the efficient and effective use of the seedlings distributed.
The ADI suggested support for cocoa farmers by the state needed to be provided in a holistic manner to address all the challenges of every cocoa farmer in Ghana.
It said providing seedlings and fertiliser to some of them fell far short of optimal.
“Here it is necessary to emphasise that the state must support each and every cocoa farmer, because every cocoa farmer is valuable and is deserving of state support. We therefore propose that the new government adopts a strategy of applying key performance indicators for each stage of the production chain, from planting, right through to harvesting,” the statement said.
This proposed process, the ADI said, would start from establishing an accurate, up-to-date database which identifies each cocoa farmer, location of each cocoa farm and size of land under cultivation, as well as a physical and topological map of each farm.
“Using this information, the state would be well positioned to make provision for suitable new, climate-smart technologies, across various processes such as mulching practices and pre-planting of plantain suckers one year in advance,” it said.
The statement said “equally important are strategies to protect cocoa farms from diseases such as mistletoe which have been ravaging them in recent years”.
This, according to the ADI, required the resumption of effective mass spraying services.
“Also, since most cocoa farms in Ghana are aged, they require automated pruning and support services,” it said.
The ADI said financial service support for farmers also needed to be improved. “In this regard, basic credit to farmers is an imperative, to enable them meet labour and production input costs.”
It said in view of the well documented difficulties in accessing agricultural finance, there was the urgent need to avail cocoa farms of agricultural insurance, which would make access to credit easier by protecting lenders against credit risk.
“To enable our proposed enhanced support services by the state to be efficiently and effectively implemented, we believe that government has two options.
“One would be for Cocobod to be given significantly enhanced capacity in the form of manpower and material resources to meet its expanded mandate and operations.
“The other would be for the requisite holistic support services to be outsourced to the private sector, with COCOBOD mandated to ensure effective monitoring of their operations and activities to ensure efficiency and effectiveness,” it concluded.