Netherlands Releases C7m For Cocoa Industry

Cocoa farmersThe Netherlands Embassy in Ghana has released a grant of seven million euros to Solidaridad West Africa to support  a four-year programme aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the country’s cocoa industry.

Ghana’s cocoa sector is faced with a number of challenges such as low productivity, low income for smallholder farmers, ageing farmers and farms, depleting soils, poor labour conditions, environmental challenges including deforestation and climate change.

The grant under the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) is expected to leverage additional private sector cocoa industry funding of 14 million euros to address the challenges facing Ghana’s cocoa sector.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in the Netherlands Embassy in Accra yesterday, the Managing Director (MD) of Solidaridad West Africa, Mr Isaac Gyamfi said the CORIP was jointly developed by a consortium of cocoa sector partners and industry companies including International Fertilizser Development Corporation, Armajaro, Cargill, ECOM, Barry Callebaut, ADM and Continaf.

He said the CORIP was aimed at supporting farmers to increase the current average cocoa production of 400 kilos per hectare to 1000 kilogrammes at the end of the project.

The MD explained that Solidaridad would collaborate with the COCOBOD and the Cocoa Research Institute to provide improved cocoa planting materials for farmers.

Mr. Gyamfi   said the project would provide the necessary technical support for farmers to rehabilitate old cocoa farms.

“Our vision is   to support the rehabilitation of about 60,000 to 80,000 hectares of old cocoa farms at the end of the four-year programme,’’ he stated.

Mr. Gyamfi said under the project, about 15 cocoa rural service centres (RCS) would be established to provide training, information, inputs and other technical supports to farmers for improved cocoa production.

The CRS, which would be managed by the private sector, Mr Gyamfi said, was expected to serve about 40,000 farmers in the cocoa growing communities across the country.

The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Hans Docter in his remark said the grant was meant to support Ghana to maintain her competitiveness in the cocoa industry and also assist farmers to improve their incomes.

“The project will target entrepreneurial farmers who want to develop their cocoa farms into sustainable and viable business enterprises,’’ the Ambassador stated.

As the largest importer of cocoa from West Africa and a global leader in the processing of cocoa into other finished products, he said the Dutch government decided to provide the grant to Solidaridad to implement the CORIP to promote Ghana’s cocoa industry.

“The programme is a good example of current Dutch policy of combining trade and development co-operation.”

“The programme shows that public and private interests can go hand in hand to add value, without  the government having to take on additional burden to increase export revenue, make production more sustainable and improve farmer profits,’’ Mr. Docter stated. By Kingsley Asare

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